Life Begins At The End of Your Comfort Zone

Track & Field in high school

Those 200m, 300m, and 400m intervals that made me feel faint, dizzy, legs burning, and wanting to throw up after practice everyday were grueling.  As an athlete, these days, including heels and bleachers, are the days we dread.  The days I used to dread.  However, little did I know it was preparing me for getting out of my comfort zone.  This type of maniacal training after school on weekdays prepared us for the track meets, which we performed at such a high level.  If you look at any of the greatest athletes around the world, their working out regimen would make you hurt while watching it.  Usain Bolt’s regimen was unbelievable and often had him regurgitating practically everyday.  This is called “stepping out of that comfortability zone.”

Moved to Australia

I wish I can get back the lost time I had in Australia.  This was the most discomforting I’ve ever been because I was trying to be someone I wasn’t.  Because I have such a wonderful personality (haha), it was hard for me to acclimate in a society where not many people smile.  Is it because I was living in the CBD of Melbourne? Possibly, a blend of Chinese, Mauritian and French cultures is extremely difficult, which brings a mixture of personalities together that are completely different, but it also revolved around my physical environments.  My work places (dental offices) were tragically terrible (longest story ever) and my living situation was appalling to say the LEAST.  When I hauled over to Sydney for the remainder of the 9 months on my visa, it got probably a tad better, but I have to say I was uncomfortable the entire time.  On the other hand, this prepared me for Thailand.  Wonderful ol’ Thailand whereas if I didn’t live in a foreign country before Thailand, I would’ve given up quickly because of the animosity dished out towards me.  I’m glad Australia prepared me for the madness within these borders.

Thailand boosted my uncomfortability to unspeakable heights. 

If you want to become successful, you’re going to have to put yourself in a very uncomfortable situation.  Am I talking moving to Asia as an African American or moving to South America as a Caucasian? No.  Do the thing you’re afraid to do. Period.

Living here in Thailand is basically living in a ball of hate for me.  The ignorance I receive on a daily basis is jaw dropping and that’s me being honest.  The rewards on the other side, however, is blissful.  It’s freedom.  The story I’ve created being here has inspired the masses around the world.  I’m saying to you today that life doesn’t begin until you test yourself in deep waters.  It’s like jumping into the deep-end, which I did when I was young, and almost drowned.  Yes, my pseudo-cousin said I wouldn’t die, but I got really close to dying; thus why peer pressure was never a problem for me.  When you’re way in over your head, the light will be above you.  You may not notice it, but through all the thick-and-thin, problems, transgressions, and a variety of other things that will come forth….just know that those are questions that will be answered by you.  Only you can go through this.  No one else can.

I’m grateful for everything I’ve experienced in my life because it prepared me for where I am today.

Podcast: https://www.spreaker.com/episode/11822230

Can You Physically Prepare For Sufferfests?

What is a sufferfest? This is basically  your household Spartan Races (although they’re much funner), Tough Mudders (notable obstacles: Arctic Enema & Electro Shock Therapy); and then there are the upper echelon sufferfests.  I’m talking about the marathons, ironmans, ultra-marathons, anything that involves you pushing yourself, like Amelia Boone does, to the absolute limit.

Amelia Boone quoted, “I love pushing my body to the point whereas I’m suffering.”

A gentleman at a restaurant in Sedona, Arizona saw my shirt and asked me about Tough Mudder.  However, unbeknownst to fitness, he made claims like, “why would people even do that?”

As some of you know, one of my greatest failures in life happened back in 2005 – Southern Nevada Sunrise Regional Track & Field Championships where I was suppose to finish in the top 2; conversely, I fell apart 125 meters into my 300m intermediate hurdle race and finished dead last.  This failure right here is music to my ears and I keep it with me everyday like a little girl keeps that teddybear by her side when she retires at night.

When I’m getting ready to give up on a Tough Mudder Course, or any workout in general, that point of suffering arises.  That moment when I crossed the finish line, collapsed, and wept at the Regional Championships.  That point of absolute defeat drives me everyday of my life, and it’s not in a bad way, either.  This greatest defeat has carried me more than 50,000 miles across the world since then and I’ve become the success I am today because of it.

What a sufferfest does, like I told a doctor from Cincinnati, Ohio yesterday, is it destroys the mind.  It destroys that habit….the thing that controls your life everyday.  It breaks the comfortability bubble that you’re in everyday.  A Tough Mudder could be anywhere from 10-20km (6-12 miles), but your body is only capable of being trained for the first half of that race.  I learned the hard way in Australia.

My first every Tough Mudder was beyond fun.  People, of all walks of life, were throwing each other over mud hills, laughing and dancing.  At the time, I thought I was at the 15km mark.  However, we reached a sign that first said 10km (halfway through) and then a course that said ‘Gorilla Hills.’  Then the moment followed…..that moment when the mental barrier and the word “quit” was beaming at me.  These ants, which were people, were making their way up these mountainous hills.  I’ve never seen anything quite like them before in my life.  I was thinking about cutting the course, taking a go-cart up the hill, quitting, so many things were going through my mind.  My upper back was in a state of pain, knees buckled, shoes were torn with little pebbles scattered throughout – killing my feet even more.  At this time, everything I ever been through in life, in terms of pain, came before my very eyes.  The suffering I endured throughout Thailand, my family, the trials and tribulations of everything came…..that’s when I stood there and looked at my reflection and said, “if I give up now, it will continue to conquer me.”

After walking….3km past; 4km past, 5km past – next thing I know the Arctic Enema was there and I almost went around.  Nope! Since I’m already suffering, I need to get a reward from it, right? That very day changed my life

These are why suffering fests are important for human beings.  The only way the growth will take place in the most uncomfortable situations is when you’re in the middle of nowhere and quitting is not an option.  The body is completely destroyed after a certain mark, and when the mental part kicks in, you begin to control the mind and tell it what to do.  Once you do that, you can start taking control of your life.

This is why they’re vital.

2.5 Tough Mudders later and a Spartan Race approaching in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, I simply can’t get enough of them.

The Ketogenic Diet – Good or Bad

My friend, who just became a nurse, said that Ketogenic diets could possibly be dangerous for you because it’s bad for your kidneys.

In addition to that, Lisa Cimperman, R.D.N., a clinical dietitian at University Hospitals Case Medical Center has said, “once your body enters ketosis, you also begin to lose muscle, become extremely fatigued, and eventually enter starvation mode. Then it actually becomes even harder to lose weight,”

“Keto diets should only be used under clinical supervision and only for brief periods,” Francine Blinten, R.D., a certified clinical nutritionist and public health consultant in Old Greenwich, Connecticut, told Healthline. “They have worked successfully on some cancer patients in conjunction with chemotherapy to shrink tumors and to reduce seizures among people suffering from epilepsy.”

What is a Ketogenic Diet?

The ketogenic diet, often nicknamed “keto,” is a high-fat diet that mimics fasting physiology. Your brain and body begin to use ketones (derived from stored or ingested fat) for energy instead of blood sugar (glucose)—a state called ketosis. The diet was originally developed to treat epileptic children, but there are many variations, including the Atkins diet. You can achieve ketosis through fasting, diet, exogenous ketones, or a combination.

If this diet was originally used to help epileptic children, wouldn’t you second guess using it? I question things.  Some doctors put patients with diabetes on it when others say “DON’T DO THAT!”  It can do more harm than good – damaging the heart, which is a muscle.

We fall prey to wacko diets, but the truth is there’s no quick fix.  Cutting refined carbs and replacing them with fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean protein, cutting processed foods, and avoiding too many additives will keep you healthy in the long term.

If you desperately need a “purge,” consult a physician or doctor and get a few opinions.  Otherwise, you’re better just setting up a healthy meal plan and executing it.

  • Meal preparation
  • Exercise
  • Implementing more good than bad

For example, anyone who asks me about losing weight, it’s easier to put in more than take out.  Having some lean protein and vegetables after a nice workout is a start.  One of my students actually dropped 6 pounds in just two weeks just by regular exercise and made one meal a day.  Yes, she still has her cheat meals, which we all need, but she’s just a bit more cautious.

Ok, so let’s say you don’t have time for exercise….could you walk for 10 minutes a day?  Just ten. That’s all I’m asking.  Tony Robbins has said, “if you don’t have 10 minutes for yourself in a day, you don’t have a life.”

Listen to a podcast or an inspiring speaker while doing this.  Afterwards, have some 12 grain bread, eggs, and broiled vegetables ready for consumption.  This right here will put you in the right direction rather than looking up information on wacko diets.

That’s just my opinion.

Tough Mudder – Tempe, Arizona

I’ve done Melbourne, Australia (the worst mudder because it was the first with massively massive hills) 2 years ago; Bali, Indonesia last year (extremely rough terrain, but absolutely gorgeous); and now Tempe, AZ in the USA.  I got 2.5 tough mudders under my belt, and I was hoping to get my 3x mudder headband, but unfortunately I didn’t do the full.

Nonetheless, here’s a rundown and a few photos of what the dry, deserted-desert area looked like that hand endless dust-devils and other things scattered across the drylands.

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DUST DEVIL!

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Vendors

To have the likes of Jamba Juice there, Mexican food, delicious hamburgers and other things made it the best out of all three mudders I’ve done so far.  Having protein and even a merchandise tent that sold endless apparel and necessities was just amazing compared to what I’ve seen in the past.

The Course

Now, having ran in Australia already, I was a little bit aware of the dry heat.  However, there’s no way you can possibly acclimate to the inhalation of sand.  By the time the race was over, I was wheezing.  Positive: zero hills and running on pretty stable terrain compared to Bali made the course decent.

Comradery

Ahhhh, I went from being alone and bored the first 1.25 miles, to barrelling through the course and being pushed by someone who asked me, “how you doing, man?” We teamed up and started talking about life overseas and our personal trials and tribulations that vaunted our workout status to unshakable heights.  It’s incredible sharing stories with strangers and seeing miles just drop, drop, DROP OFF.  By the time we can across the obstacles where assistance was actually needed, we had met some wonderfully beautiful German beauties (the Pink Team) whereas the course got much funner.  One girl even claimed that she hadn’t worked out since February…..here I am hyperventilating because of my 5 day hiatus.  That’s the beauty of Tough Mudder; let alone Americans.  The forming of an alliance amongst strangers and putting 100% trust into them makes this an obstacle course to remember.

Going Forward

I have a Spartan Race coming up in Singapore next month, perhaps one sometime during the American summer months that will be in Kuala Lumpur, one in Thailand (AROO!) and perhaps a Tough Mudder to top off the year.  Enjoy the pictures and even my podcast down below!

Podcast: https://www.spreaker.com/episode/11587764

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Donating The Shoes

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Three Tips From A Google Pioneer – Chade-Meng

Award winning author, nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, and led the creation of a groundbreaking mindfulness-based emotional intelligence course for employees called Search Inside Yourself (which had a waitlist of at least six months).

He asks everyone, “how could you sustain your meditation practice that it becomes so sustaining? Here’s a few suggestions.”

  1. Have A Buddy

Yes, this goes for just about anything.  That accountability partner that holds you accountable for things you commit to.  You’re more predisposed to being successful than to not having a buddy.  Look at a gym routine, for instance.  The best workout I’ve had since 2009 just happened a few weeks ago when one of my students, who’s a brilliant pianist, wanted to rock out a gym session with me.

1 hour later, tons of intervals later, battle ropes, non-stop burpees, squats, among so many other exercises – my body was completely shell-shocked to the point I stumbled out of the gym.

“We suggest finding a “mindfulness buddy” and committing to a 15-minute conversation every week, covering at least these two topics:

a. How am I doing with my commitment to my practice?
b. What has arisen in my life that relates to my practice?

We also suggest ending the conversation with the question, “How did this conversation go?”

We instituted this in our mindfulness-based emotional intelligence program (Search Inside Yourself) and found it very effective.” – Chade Meng

2. Do Less

This always goes back to the micro wins rather than macro.  I’m not saying go running 30 minutes before it feels like a chore.  I’m saying walk/run for ten minutes.  Also, put some good tunes in your ear; better yet, a podcast that’s inspiring.  However long the podcast is, you walk for that time and practice gratitude and affirmations….which is another thing you can listen to.

3. Take One Breath A Day

“There are two reasons why one breath is important. The first is momentum. If you commit to one breath a day, you can easily fulfill this commitment and preserve the momentum of your practice. Later, when you feel ready for more, you can pick it back up easily. You can say you don’t have 10 minutes today to meditate, but you cannot say you have no time for one breath, so making it a daily practice is extremely doable.

The second reason is having the intention to meditate is itself a meditation. This practice encourages you to arise an intention to do something kind and beneficial for yourself daily, and over time, that self-directed kindness becomes a valuable mental habit. When self-directed kindness is strong, mindfulness becomes easier.”

Excerpt From: Timothy Ferriss & Arnold Schwarzenegger. “Tools of Titans.”

These three simple rules from Chade Meng could help you with your meditation, and just getting started on big projects at work, working out, even committing to making your lunch in the morning.

In addition, don’t forget to practice joy loving-kindness, which is a technique that is used just by walking down the street, looking at someone and thinking to yourself “I wish for this person to be happy, and I wish for that person to be happy.”  That’s it.  You’ll be happier than the previous 10 seconds.  Try it!

 

 

My Greatest Defeat – 2005 Sunrise Regional Track & Field Championships

Two years into my track and field career marked the biggest could-be-achievement of my life.  As a junior in high school, I qualified for the Sunrise Regional Championships.  Four heats of runners from all over the valley (Las Vegas) facing off with the top 2 of each heat clinching a spot in the finals.  Top 2 athletes of the finals would head to Reno for the Class 4A State Championship Race.

Having clinched my spot in the regional semi finals, and with a very distinguished time (upper echelon of all runners), I would at least make it to finals.

I failed miserably at the 100m high hurdles (my weakness); conversely, the 300m intermediate hurdles was the event that I ran great times in over the course of a few months.

Heading into a pivotal race in the west side of Las Vegas (Palo Verde High School), my nerves were calm and I was ready to go.  However, I didn’t run the race in my mind whatsoever, nor did I ever, which I think was crucial for advancing.

Nonetheless, after the 200m heats, my event was up next.  I’m not exactly sure what was happening on the track, but the officials made us sit down on a cold field, waiting for hour event.

For those of you who don’t know, sitting down and not stretching before a race could end up being detrimental, especially if the temperatures outside were dropping as time went on.

Finally, they called on my heat and I proceeded to lane 3 – one of the best lanes to run in for a 300m intermediate hurdle race.  I recall making eye-contact with a couple of Asians before the race – they nodded, I carried on.

“Runners on your block!”

I told myself I would come out screaming out of the blogs and establish my pace.  Worst decision ever.

I crouched down and did my typical ritual which involved me smacking the track while taking deep inhales and exhales.  I backed into position on the blocks…..here we go.

Once the gun went off, I came out of the block FLYING – passing everyone within the first 75 meters.  However, when we reached the first curve, that’s when my hamstrings and quadriceps locked up on me.  I had no idea what was happening, but it felt like I was carrying cinder blocks, narrowly getting over the hurdles while the rest of the racers past me in the blink of an eye.

The last 100meters was beyond devastating, hitting every hurdle as I went over – huffing and puffing.  I reached the finish line at 50 seconds, dropped to my knees and sobbed.  I remember staggering across the field covered in tears and there were twins on the team who were looking at….then dropped their heads as I approached.

A few of my friends approached me for comforting before I went to my coach to apologize. He looked at me, eyes glistening – then put his hands on my shoulders before giving me a partial hug.

“Sorry, coach!”

Because my coach is such a magician and knowing who I am, he cracked a joke about the race saying, “in the beginning, I was excited! Then around that back stretch I started looking at you and the time with my jaw dropped.”

LOL!

Another shot-put thrower failed to reach the state championships when he was the most favored out of all the competitors in the entire state of Nevada .  800m runner, who had run extraordinary times throughout the year, also failed, too.

The entire team went up in flames that fateful evening at Palo Verde High School in May.

12 years later, two tough mudders later, thousands of miles later, tens of thousands of squats later, I’m still here.  This failure set myself up to continue working out for the rest of my life.  Not just because I’m a speed-adrenaline junky and I love running extremely fast, but if it wasn’t for that May night, there’s no telling where my body would be in terms of physique.

When I go running and I’m 200meters away from my mark, the sprint is ON! I barrel down the street while people watch me in awe….”PUSH MOTHER ****ER! DON’T STOP! DON’T STOP!” I feel at times I’m off my head, but those last two hundred meters have rescinded within me in the greatest possible way.

Thank you, failure.  If it wasn’t for you, who knows where my health would be today.

Joe De Sena – Co-Founder of Spartan/Death Race & His Story Behind It All

I was talking to someone on my blog earlier about ultramarathons after being introduced to them by a passerby at my investing job (better way of just tying myself down to ‘job’), and the madness that goes on in these particular marathons are bananas.

Joe De Sena, in particular, finished the Badwater Ultramarathon (135 miles at over 120°F/49°C), Vermont 100, and Lake Placid Ironman—all in the same week.

Ummm…..what did you just say?

Let’s put these races into perspective, shall we?

 

The hottest air temperature ever recorded in Death Valley was 134 °F (56.7 °C).  Bad water is the lowest point in the continental United States, which is Death Valley.

I’ll.  Be.  Damned!

Watching this really hit that soft spot in me.  Seeing people overcome tragedy, MS, along with so many disorders that wreak havoc on the lives of millions worldwide….and be able to commit to finishing the ironman is the most incredible GIFT ever.  What does this do? Well, it’s just like Tough Mudder, right? My friends always said, “why did you do it?”  Because since that, my life has completely changed because I had a fortified mental barrier that was tormenting my life and degrading myself, my true self-worth.

What’s even more incredible is the first person who crossed the finish line for the women was Heather Jackson (proud Herbalife sponsor).  Congrats, Heather!

Now back to Joe.  I don’t even have to show the Vermont 100 because you obviously know it deals with 100 miles/km.  I will show you an excerpt from Tim Ferris’ book – The Tools of Titans…

“WHY HE STARTED TACKLING INSANE EVENTS WHILE WORKING ON WALL STREET

“You make and lose $30K, $40K in minutes screwing up an order or having customers tell you that they are no longer going to deal with you. It was very stressful business. [I wanted] to get back to the core of life. . . . [A friend] said, ‘Well, you could die. There is this one—the Iditarod in Alaska. They do it in the middle of the winter, it is by foot, and it is 30 below. But, you have to —’ ‘Sign me up. I have to do it.’ I had to get back to this place where you just want water, food, and shelter. All the craziness of my life—this Wall Street life I had taken on—would go away, would melt away.”

Excerpt From: Timothy Ferriss & Arnold Schwarzenegger. “Tools of Titans.” iBooks. https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/tools-of-titans/id1149615754?mt=11

These types of thing don’t test you, they break you.  All the problems in all the categories of your life are literally up in flames during races like these.  After you finish this gauntlet, you go back home and realize that those seemingly, monstrous problems are now microscopic compared to the rampant fatigue, faint-feeling you had had during the race.

This is why I do it.  This is why in April I’m doing Tough Mudder in Arizona/April.  Spartan Race – Singapore/May. Spartan Race – Malaysia/3rd quarter.  Tough Mudder – Bali, Indonesia/October.

I will continue to break myself….

Gelatin – Is It Good or Bad? America Takes The Affirmative & Thailand Takes The Negative

About a year ago, I was engagement in one of those idle-gossip-conversations at work that involved a teacher spewing rhetoric about factories in Thailand.  At the time I was eating candy that contained Gelatin, an ingredient that’s literally put into candy here and in Germany for some odd reason and the British teacher ERUPTED….

“Omg, you know those are made in factories here in Thailand.  Cow skin and bones is what Gelatin is and it’s put into that mess.”

It wasn’t only him, but other staff members were predisposed to consuming candy that had the infamous “Gelatin” in it.

So, I finally did some research and my oh my, this is why you NEVER listen to the opinions of others and you just have to check it out yourself.

Gelatin is a protein made from the skins and bones of pigs and cows. It’s a common ingredient in a number of products, including: medicine, makeup, vaccines, and food.

Why do people take Gelatin?

Many people with arthritis take Gelatin supplements Gelatin contains collagen. That’s a material in the cartilage that cushions the bones in your joints.

The idea behind this usage is that eating gelatin (with collagen)  will add collagen to your joints. However, that’s probably not true. The collagen in gelatin gets broken down when you eat it. It wouldn’t travel directly to your joints.

Nonetheless, there is some evidence that gelatin could help ease joint pain in people with osteoarthritis.

Then came Amanda Boone.  Amanda Boone, who is the first person to win first at the World’s Toughest Mudder, actually takes hydrolysed Gelatin.  She said in Tim Ferris’ book ‘tools of titans’ why she actually takes it….

“I’ve consumed Gelatin for connective tissue repair in the past.  I’ve never stuck with it long term because Gelatin takes on a seagull poo-like texture when mixed into cold.” – Amelia Boone 

 

“Amelia saved my palate and joints by introducing me to the Great Lakes hydrolyzed version (green label), which blends easily and smoothly.” – Tim Ferris

Amazing results from one of the greatest, ultra athletes in the world and a highly sought after writer/entrepreneur.

Interesting when we just go by the opinions of others and let that dictate what we believe at that specific moment.  However, when you actually check things out and do the research yourself, you have your satori moment.

Podcast – https://www.spreaker.com/episode/10544369