Saturday, April 30, 2016

Work it! (part 3)

It is time for my next post in my all-things-gym series (the other post in the series can be found here: 1 2 4 5 6) and in this one I'll be talking about personal trainers (PT). A lot of people think that I’m a PT because of how I look and I must say it’s a right fit career-wise at first glance. However I can’t be bothered with people if they can’t motivate themselves plus I hate small talk and I can’t be friendly to people if I don’t like them. So being a PT is a definite no-no for me.

Personally I don’t need a PT and I think they're quite useless unless you’re really ill-disciplined and need that extra reason to hit the gym especially since you’ve already invested money in the personal training sessions. I’ve seen people in the gym engaging the same PT for years yet there isn’t much improvement in their physique which further supports my opinion that it’s ultimately up to you and not the PT to make a difference. Moreover you can get everything a PT knows from fitness publications and many of them are free online. When I started going to the gym I did a lot of research from magazines and it was then I knew I don’t need a PT. The only PT session I had was the free one that came with joining the gym. In addition fitness and nutrition advice is very subjective and different PTs will tell you different things. In the end you still have to find the regimen that best fits your body and lifestyle so there’s even lesser point in paying for such advice. If you need motivation and reason to go to the gym, I suggest looking for a gym partner instead of a PT. That being said, a lot of guys do look for gym buddies on gay dating apps but you also start to wonder are they looking for a friend to work out with in the gym or in bed.

Another weird thing people do is hire PTs but end up just chatting with them. I see this more in Singapore than in Australia where middle-aged women engage handsome PTs to shower them with attention instead of using them to improve their fitness. Well if you can afford it why not but don’t complain when you don’t see any results because you’re only working out your mouth! If I were to use a PT, I’ll tell him from day one that I’ll not be chatting nor engaging in small talk with him and he is to focus all of his attention on me and that means no checking of phones throughout the session (many of them do and that to me is very unprofessional behaviour). I’ll make sure every cent spent on him is worth it. I also see some PTs selling supplements to their clients as a source of additional income even though I heard they get paid quite a lot. I’m sure some of them supply steroids to keen buyers too. Competitive bodybuilding is such a strange sport–I think it’s one of the only event whereby illegal-consumption of steroids is a mandatory pre-requisite for a person to be good enough for the competition!

The other major reason why I think negatively about PTs is they do not follow gym rules themselves when they’re working out. They don’t put back weights, drop weights, don’t use towels and don’t even enforce proper footwear rules when their clients are wearing slippers in the gym! I guess at the end of the day they’re only good for being subjects of ogling when they strip naked in the changing room. Haha. PTs not following gym rules is not my only pet peeve when working out, there are many more and I’ll share them in my next post. Now it’s time for the video portion of the post.

There’s only one clip in this post but it’s a good one I promise as it’s of me flexing. I did both G-rated flexing clips and more salacious ones but I’ll only be posting the former on my blog. If you like what you see, leave some comments and maybe I’ll post the not so G-rated ones at some point!

Flexing #1:

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Work it! (part 2)

In this second post of my workout series (the rest is here: 1 3 4 5 6), I'll talk a little about my diet. As mentioned before by many others, if one’s diet is not controlled, no amount of exercise will result in a lean muscular physique. That being said my personal experience shows that genetics play a huge part as well.

To start I cut down on sugar as much as possible by using artificial sweeteners (I drink a lot of sugar-free soda which is bad for the teeth due to the high acid content but that's another problem). The jury is still out on the harmfulness of artificial sweeteners like aspartame (e.g. them being carcinogenic) so as long as I’m not going overboard on that (which I don’t think I am) I should be alright. I also cut down on carbs like rice, bread and potato whenever possible since they are practically equivalent to sugar once digested. In addition if I can see visible oil or fat in my food, I'll go all out to remove it like trimming fat off raw meat before cooking or absorbing oil from fried food using paper.

Before you think that I’m an angel nutrition-wise I can tell you now that I’m not as I snack a lot on junk food! I don’t have a sweet tooth but if you throw me a packet of chips, I'll not stop till I finish the whole bag. Salty snacks are my kryptonite and like all superheros, we all have a weak point. This is why I think I have good genes because given how much junk I eat I should really not be able to maintain my six-pack abs. People also say that Asians get lean much easier than Caucasians which although I don’t really agree, I don’t have a strong argument to support my case given my lean built! One of the biggest reasons why I work out is because I love to eat. Calorie-consumption is a very good motivation to hit the gym but that can only work if you’re disciplined enough to stick to a routine in the first place. I also think that it’s unhealthy to deprive oneself of junk food as it makes a diet plan much more unsustainable. Human beings are programmed to like fatty, salty and sweet food so we have to give in once in a while! As long as I maintain a reasonable muscle load, I just need to control my diet more tightly two weeks before a shoot and I am good to go (which is something that I’ll do in preparation of my upcoming shoot in Singapore).

I have also tried fad diets like the Atkins diet once in an attempt to lose weight fast. Although this diet is really unbalanced, it worked for me (I think I lost about 3kgs in a week). The catch is you have to be very strict if you want it to work! I also tried 6 months of nothing but salad to try to bring my bad cholesterol level down (yes, I once had high cholesterol which is something even fit/lean people can be afflicted with so I encourage everyone to get tested). It was a hellish half a year but I managed to achieve my goal. The good thing about high cholesterol is that it is a reversible disease and there are not many out there like that!

The other big unhealthy fad out there is protein supplements which I believe is not necessary for the average gym-goer. Unless you train like a professional bodybuilder you’ll not be able to expend all the protein you take and as a result your body suffers from having to process that unused protein. I believe you can have enough protein from your daily diet if you choose your food well. In that way you don't have to succumb to the aggressive marketing techniques out there to sell you supplements that you don’t need and won’t achieve the promised results unless you train hard enough (which many don’t). Oh, and steroids. I know a lot of people do that but I'm afraid of needles and am a stingy bitch (they are expensive) so I stay clear of them. Also it is not a miracle drug–you still need to train very hard for it to work. Plus it's not without side effects which I'm not going to elaborate here–Google is your friend). At the end of the day diet fads come and go (e.g. the Paleolithic diet) and the tried-and-tested adage “everything in moderation” is the only golden rule everyone needs to know.

Well that’s enough talk about diets and it’s time for the videos! My next two clips feature traps and legs and if you want more you’d have to wait one more week!



Saturday, April 16, 2016

Work it! (part 1)

Despite the unfortunate news yesterday that my contract in Papua New Guinea will not get extended, blogging still has to continue. In fact I will have more time to blog now that I am not taking on new work as this is my last hitch in PNG. Anyway here goes.

Over the years a lot of people have asked me about my gym routine in an attempt to "replicate" my body and some have even asked me to train them personally. I am the worst teacher and motivator on this planet so I have always turned them down but that does not mean I have nothing to say when it comes to all things gym-related. In the next series of posts I will let it all out based on my 15 years of experience hitting the gym.

In this first post (the others can be found here: 2 3 4 5 6) I want to describe my gym routine which comprises of strength-training and cardio. There are roughly 9 muscle groups that are commonly trained. When I am back home I split these groups into 2 1.5-hour sessions and I only do 2 sessions within a week (to the surprise of many who because of my built think that I live in the gym). In the first session I focus on shoulders, triceps, traps, legs and forearms in that sequence while in the second, I work the remaining chest, biceps, back and abdominals in that order. I came up with this sequence and split myself so as to have minimal overlap of muscle groups between exercises. In this way I can concentrate fully on each group. I do 4 exercises for each muscle and 3 sets for each exercise. I alternate between heavier weights (8 reps per set) and lighter ones (15 reps per set) every week as the former builds muscle-size while the latter muscle-length (as I have been told). To burn more calories I only rest for a minute between sets so as to throw in some bit of cardio effect when doing weights. When I am in Papua New Guinea due to my long working hours, I prefer shorter sessions and so I split the 9 muscle groups to 4 0.5-hour sessions within a week instead.

In addition to weights a good routine must contain cardiovascular exercises as well. There are people who only do weights and not cardio and the most common reason is that cardio burns off muscles which I do not think is true. I used to do both classes (Body Attack and Body Combat) as well as running on the treadmill or time on the cross-trainer. Ever since I moved to Melbourne I frequently go for topless jogs outside too since the park is just nearby (regardless of the season, I always go topless). When I am working in PNG I find it harder to do classes when I am on my break due to schedule-mismatch (when I was still working in Melbourne I used to go to the gym before work just when the gym opens at 6am). Classes are about an hour and jogs as well as treadmill/cross-trainer sessions are 0.5-hour long. I don’t like to go for long runs as I feel that jogging alone is boring.

Another important element of a successful fitness regime is of course diet and I will touch on that in my next post. In this series I shall also upload short clips of one exercise per muscle group. These videos were self-taken in the gym of the remote site in PNG. For those who have always wanted to see me in action in the gym, you are in luck! The first two clips feature shoulders and triceps. I am getting lazier over the years and so I don’t have very good exercise posture so just admire my muscles and don’t dwell too much on my form OK?



Saturday, April 9, 2016

Musical journey (69)

Jay Chou is one of the most talented celebrities in Asia who not only sing, compose and produce albums but he has also acted (both in Asia and in Hollywood) and directed. He has also dabbled in hosting variety shows, performing magic and is running a string of businesses. He caught my attention back when he was still not that famous after he released his first album. In it, he introduced a totally new genre of music in the saturated Chinese music industry and was such a breath of fresh air that I knew he was someone whose music I will follow for the rest of his career. Sure enough, I have all his previous albums (13 to date) and I never fail to sing his songs during karaoke sessions. He has also inspired a number of my own compositions and continues to do so. Although Jay does not have strong vocals (unless it is rap), his other talents more than compensate for that.

This month's musical journey is a cover of one of my favourite songs of his from his first album. I have also taken part in a singing competition with this song (alas I did not win anything). This song is a challenging one especially if sung in the original key. Jay writes the tune to all his songs but occasionally he pens the words too and this is one such example. I hope this video does not get taken down due to copyright infringement like some of my other clips. I also hope you will enjoy my rendition of this very nice piece titled "黑色幽默" or "Black Humour".