Allow the future to guide the present

This afternoon, I had a run an errand that lasted an hour longer than I would’ve expected. In the beginning, I had told myself I’d head home to make a salad for lunch. However, as my stomach began to growl and eat me from the inside out, I could tell one half of my hunger hormone, Ghrelin, has begun to aggressively send messages to my brain swaying me to eat anything that would fill that void.

“Spam and egg sandwich… spam and egg instant noodles… fried rice… stir fry Chinese flat noodles with marinated beef…. sushi…” The most delicious and most convenient food popped into my head one after another. Slowly but surely, the desire to have a brain and heart-healthy salad were dissipated.

As I left the office heading to my car, I was steps away from buying any of those items but the one thing that kept me from doing that was knowing how I would feel after eating those items.

Lethargic. Disappointed. Overly full. Brain Fog. 

Through being hyper-aware of my physical and mental senses on a regular basis, I knew exactly how my body and mind would react after eating certain meals and today, I successfully gifted myself with the courage to avoid that feeling (even though I was starting to get real HANGRY and easily irritated).

The awareness of the future guided the choices of the present. 

We may not always know what the future presents, or how our choices will impact our future but by visualization, by learning from the past, and by being aware of our desired lifestyle — we can lower the risk of disappointment or unexpected emotions for the future.

Do you have an example of how your awareness of the future impacts your decisions today? Do you know how your body is feeling right at this very moment? What is it telling you?

The Power of REST

Remember a time when you could power through a day, a week, a month with as little as 2-3 hours of sleep a day? Remember a time when you’d wake up tired, acknowledge an earlier night would be beneficial and yet by the time night rolls around, you’re out and about ready to rock again?

I certainly remember those days and they were fantastic. The ability to get minimal sleep and wake up ready to socialize and spend time with family is what allowed me to really live the Hong Kong city life to its full extent. However, with my current knowledge of the power of rest on brain and body function, I am wary about being prideful of those times.

As a society, we have come to praise and value those who have the ability to complete as many projects and tasks as possible in as little time as possible. We stay busy because that is what our peers and co-workers are doing. 5-6 hours of sleep have become the norm, and yet our brains and our bodies crave a much longer recovery on a daily basis. Amongst other health practices, getting longer REM and deep sleep, our bodies are able to create more Growth Hormones, the key to maintaining, building and repairing healthy tissue in the brain and other organs.

I’m regrettably guilty of not getting enough rest due to my work schedule and trying to work in social life at the same time. I do have to say I’ve made progress in understanding and listening to my body when it urges me to slow down. Tracking my heart rate variability and sleep data through the Whoop band has been a great addition to this process.

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With that said, with the amount of physical activity I put my body through on a regular basis, my sleep coach is consistently telling me to “catch up on sleep to feel better, or to lead to peak performance.” Having peak performance on a regular basis during my strength and conditioning sessions as well as Muay Thai training is a goal that I continue to work towards.

In the last two months, I’ve taken an extended weekend vacation once a month. This also means I am away from Muay Thai or weight training for a few days once a month, focusing on active recovery and movement the days I’m away. One thing I’ve noticed is, despite my fear of having an extra difficult session on my first training session back after a vacation, I surprisingly performed better than I did directly prior to vacation. My mind was focused, I felt strong, and I felt my body ready and willing to learn new techniques all over again.

Feeling that refreshed and strong is a power I strive to have on a regular basis – not only once a month when I return from a few days off. Thus, the process continues.

What changes do I have to make in my lifestyle to ensure my body receives the rest it needs to? When do I need to pull back on the intensity of my sessions even if my brain is saying “no days off”? What kind of foods do I need to add and detract away from my diet? Most days, I know the answers to those questions. However, the execution of said answers is the challenge I continue to face.

How are you receiving rest in your life? What does “REST” mean for you?

 

A lot happens in a decade

“The times you lived through, the people you shared those times with – nothing brings it all to life like an old mix tape. It does a better job of storing up memories than actual brain tissue can do. Every mix tape tells a story. Put them together, and they can add up to the story of a life.” – Rob Sheffield

TLDR~

In reflection through my travels in the last two weeks, I’ve come to realize the large influence each and every person has had in my life, from the values I carry with family, friendships, relationships, to the places I’ve traveled and lived, to my work ethic and career choices. Below I’ve broken down many of the segments of my life and how they’ve influenced me. This may seem like it should be a private journal but I hope that in sharing with you my reflection, it will encourage you to do the same – break down the segments of your life and what it’s taught you.

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In the past two+ weeks, I’ve been fortunate enough to be on vacation in Cambodia, Hong Kong, and Boston. It was a much-needed break from the daily grind of the last few months. Before heading off to vacation, I felt a bit of burn out starting to creep in after putting in 12+ hour days. With that said, I’m also very fortunate to have work to keep myself busy for 12+ hour days.

Throughout my vacation, I spent a lot of time reflecting on the journey life has taken me in the last decade. I graduated high school and left Hong Kong a decade ago, and since then, I’ve lived in 6 different cities, 4 different countries in 3 continents. Fortunate does not begin to describe the opportunities I’ve been gifted.

Every place I’ve lived, every person I’ve met, played an important role in molding who I am today. One of the most powerful job interview questions I’ve had to answer is: “Name 5 people that have made the most impact in your life, why and how?” At the time, I was able to name 5 specific people but in the last few weeks, I’ve realized that there are much more than 5 people. In chronological order, I’ve expressed some of what each experience I’ve been through has taught me.

  • HKIS (Hong Kong International School)’s service learning and Interim trips taught me to always be a servant, serve with compassion no matter rich, poor, friends, or enemies.
  • HKIS sports and my coaches taught me what it meant to be a team, to be a Class athlete, to always carry sportsmanship is everything I do.
  • HKIS Summer discovery program, specifically working with Shirley Wan, gave me my first work experience, taught me how to work and have fun with coworkers at the same time – and of course, working with children.
  • Island ECC taught me the importance of community, how to love in Christ, with Christ, and through Christ. Mentors and fellow youth group friends allowed me to learn that we can be a servant leader in Christ yet be open and loving to those who have a different belief as our own.
  • My brothers and sisters in Christ in Cambodia (Vannak, Grandma Peg, Rind, Vannara, etc) created a home for me in PP since the first time I visited- leading to my gap year working in PP.
    • This year taught me responsibility at work, how to be a leader for students I was teaching, but also how to be a leader amongst coworkers even in the midst of conflicts. It taught me to value education and what it means to be a “good student”.
    • This year in PP gifted me with friends from all over the world from couch surfing, many of these friends accepted me for who I was and became close friends despite having a large age difference.
    • This year taught me to be a smart traveler, to turn our fears into opportunities, and that beauty can be found in the most war-torn places.
  • Emerson College taught me to be unique, to stand firm to our own beliefs, values and yet be open for discussion with those who may have a different opinion. Emerson taught me to think critically with everything I read, write, hear or do.
  • Quidditch – Emerson and Lost Boys, taught me that it’s pretty damn badass to be able to run with a broom in between your legs while scoring hoops and tackling people.
  • Grad school taught me that I was capable of research and writing a master’s thesis if I put my mind to it- that sometimes it takes sitting with your research data for days before you come up with a good idea that you can roll with.
  • Austin taught me that the pulse of a city and the energy of the people is extremely important to me. Austin taught me that live music is a crucial part of elevating the soul of a city, and everyone in it. Austin showed me with the right environment, and the right community of friends that will not only always have your back, but challenge you to your wildest dreams – I am capable of settling down in a city for more than a few years.
  • Avesta taught me that learning does not stop after college. BTP taught me that when you put a group of people who are driven to learn, willing to sacrifice, and willing to take risks- it makes the work environment feel like play and all that hardships turn into learning opportunities. “Hire for culture, not skills. Skills can always be taught.”
  • Officially obtaining my ACE Personal Training license in 2018 and the learning I have been fortunate enough to have through Movati and various courses has taught me that it’s never too late to learn what you’ve always wanted to learn. Remember those days where you told friends, “I wish I knew this, I wish I knew that…”
    • Don’t wish. Make it happen.

Not getting the H1B to be able to stay in the States reminded me that God is constantly challenging me – as soon as I find a city that I feel completely alive and comfortable in – I was bounced right out. The last year and a half were filled with ups and downs, transitional moments of confusion but perhaps without this transitional time, I wouldn’t be spending as much time in reflection of the last decade nor would I be actively seeking out my next steps.

Thank you to each and every single person who has made an influence in my life. We may have only lived life together for a short period of time or may live a thousand miles away from each other now, but I see you- and I thank you.

I don’t know what 2019 and the next decade has in stored for me but what I do know is that it’s going to be unpredictable, exciting and filled with joy.

What are you fighting for?

Every day we wake up with many choices. Do I drink a glass or water or jump right into the coffee? Am I going to start the day with the smile or with an exhausted frown because we have to go to work once again? Am I going to be a better person today than I was yesterday? I’m sure you can come up with a million other questions you ask yourself as soon as you wake up.

The question that surrounds my mind on many of the decisions and choices I make is, what are you fighting for?

Whether it be work related, friendship related, society related, or simply a challenge you are having in your own mind – it can feel like a boss battle. It’s easy to lose track of the real mission of the fight when we’re caught up with the small demons jumping around distracting us from time to time.

When we take the magnifying glass away and replace it with a wide angle lense, we remind ourselves of the deep truth that we are fighting for. We fight for love, we fight for health, we even fight for our own ego (in fear of it being destroyed). When we can pinpoint the reason, we begin to have a higher awareness of whether the fight is worth it or not.


There are multiple fights in my life that I’m battling every day. Some days are better than others but what I do know is that, the more I fight – the better I get.

The importance of self care

To start off, I started 5 minute journaling for about a week now and it’s been great. In the midst of my busy schedule, it’s hard to find time to journal for long. I downloaded the 5 minute journal app on my phone so if I forget in the morning at home, I make sure I sit in my car before entering work to jot some thoughts down. The reason I’m telling you this is because under “How I will make today great”, I wrote write a blog post… so here I am, at midnight ready for bed – but need to finish the day right by accomplishing what I set out to achieve.

Work sometimes can easily take over our lives. Currently, I wake up at 7 am almost every day and most days don’t get home until at the earliest at 9pm, some days at around 11pm (just in time to sleep and drive right back in the morning!). My job is incredibly rewarding, and time flies during the day when I’m having fun with my clients.

With that said, burn out is real and it creeps up day after day. A few days ago, I felt my patience lower than usual, and felt simple exhausted throughout the day. My coaching was affected and mind was foggy – that was when I knew I needed to take a few hours off for self care.

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I simply took a morning and afternoon off. I was away from work for about 18 hours and boy did I feel refreshed when I went back into work that evening. I made myself a full breakfast, went bouldering, went for some R&R in a float tank, and listened to podcast.

I’m back on the grind now, and will be until I head back to Austin for a short vacation mid November. I may be working from 9am to 10pm many days, but now I know, even half a day of R&R makes a world of a difference.

What are your strategies for self-care?