Sunday, March 27, 2016

Preparing for the Thailand Princess Cup...

Preparing for the "Big One" in June...

Cikgu Lau, my archery buddy told me about the Thailand Princess Cup Archery tournament in Bangkok.
Curious, I went on to the organizer's website to do some research. 
I found that it was a professionally organized event hosted by the Thailand Outdoor Archery Club (TOAC).
Seems that they have been very popular to archers from around the region and Malaysia was represented in a few categories.

The new job and having weekends off...

I must say that life has been really good since August last year. I left my old workplace to take on new challenges and ended up in a multimedia department.
I left behind a group of conflicted bigots and some pretty insecure people to pursue a career in content development. So, the reward was having my weekends to myself.
That said, I used the time to stay in shape, build up my physical strength and live a clean life.
Now, I have some time to train and I picked Saturdays and Sundays to put some arrows downrange. 
Gone were the days when we had to drive half way across the Klang Valley to shoot at a club and a paid range.

Weekends are totally awsome at the range 
Working on my grouping

A happy camper!

Trying the traditional/barebow category in Thailand

The Princess Cup tournament is basically an indoor event. It's held at a shopping mall North of Bangkok.
Archers are given the choices to shoot either Recurve or Compound bows and my choice was the barebow category.
It is set at a distance of 18-meters and each archer has to shoot 10 ends with 3 arrows per end.
Points will be aggregated based on the best 5 sets.
I don't have any experience at all when it comes to indoor archery. But I do have a set of indoor arrows that were spined for my Martin Panther #45lb takedown recurve bow.
Basically, it's a hunting bow with enough power to put some arrows downrange at that distance.
So, that said, I have to work on my grouping.

My grouping

The Martin Panther Bow

The grouping with a set of Beman ICS Bowhunter arrows

The rules

I read the latest update on The Princess Cup Archery Facebook page which states that barebow archers would have to shoot 10 ends with 3 arrows on a 40cm single target face. Sound pretty fair at distance of 18 meters without any bow sights.
My bow of choice for this tournament is the Martin Panther #45 takedown recurve bow. I am very used to shooting this bow and most of my arrows are spined to its heavy poundage. In the months to come, my focus is also to build my upper body strength.This includes 50 push-ups daily and free weights training.

The Martin Panther is smooth and accurate

Sending arrows downrange

The video above is how we work on our groupings at the little range near our house. I take the opportunity to train every weekend unless if I have to work.
Apart from that, I would also have to get used to my Easton Platinum Plus 2315 arrows that were meant for indoor shoots...

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Living clean - a cautionary tale from a fat guy who loves to eat...

That defining moment...

My hba1C results back in June last year...
You don't get fat overnight.

If you neglect your body and kept on eating uncontrollably, you will gain weight. And if you keep it up over the years, your body will bloat up. That's a fact.
My turning point came sometime in the middle of last year. I mentioned this on my earlier post. So, what I have with me, was a piece of paper that read: "Diabetic, poor control".
After putting two and two together, it dawned on me that a poor diet, irregular eating hours, consumption of excessive carbohydrates and carbonated drinks had contributed to a spike in my sugar-levels.

At the height of my peak weight around 105kg...
It was hard to swallow the hard facts. 

"Diabetes", is a disease associated to your lifestyle. If you are docile and have trouble breaking down sugar in your food, there is a very likely chance of diabetes to occur. People in their mid-30s should check their sugar-levels to determine if they have diabetes (type 2) that is linked to weight gain and a carbohydrate rich diet.
Now, the carbohydrate part itself, needs a bit of explaining to do. We need sugar that converts into energy. Food containing starch is converted into sugar. If you can use the sugar and burn off the excess, then your body is doing a decent job in keeping your health in balance. This means, you exercise regularly and observe a balanced diet. Not too excessive on the carbohydrate intake. That was my problem. And it became from bad to worse.

A recent shot of me and my girl...
Change - it's inevitable...

A few things happened last year. My career was on a rocky path. My food column was cancelled and my health was deteriorating rapidly.
I chose to do something about the health part. Career decisions, well, I made mine. The only way to shed the extra bulge was to exercise and go on a diet.
When I said this to a couple of co-workers, they laughed. I was determined. I wanted to live past the age of 50 with no major health issues. I can fight diabetes.

My motivation? Siberian Huskies!

I have two wonderful dogs. Each time I leave my house for work, I kept thinking on how much I have neglected them. 
To make up for this, I was motivated to leash them and walk at least 30-minutes a day. This became 1 hour and later, the workout was intensified to 2 hours a day. On the average, we walk about 10km. In total, for the first 90 days of my weight loss program, I walked almost 15km and lost 1kg a week.

Rise and shine!

The morning workout...
A happy Husky is a tired Husky!
Each day when I wake up in the morning, I was motivated to harness my pups and go for a 45-minute walk. 
If I don't, I felt that something was not right. My body needs the exercise to keep the sugar-levels balanced.
So, that said, I get the exercise I need, the dogs are happy. On food intake, I limited my carbohydrates. I consume rice in small portions only once a day. For breakfast, its moderate intake. I go a bit heavy on vegetables for lunch and eat as light as possible during dinner. Over a period of 90 days, I lost more than 10kgs.

Coffee, sandwich and the naughty boy...

Loading up... 
That "no guilt" dinner... 
Exercise, eat right and sleep well...

If you are an obese dude with a body mass index of 32, there is no shortcuts to losing weight and toning up your body. The first order of the day, is to get up and out to burn of the excess fat.
How did I achieve this? I walk. I eat less carbohydrates. I eat plenty of greens. Drink plenty of water. Abstain from carbonated drinks. Since I don't have a sweet tooth, I don't eat cakes and sugary pastries.
All that good food? Well, been there, done that. Eating clean, for starters, is not a cheap affair. It can be costly. The good and clean stuff are. It's a fact.
Sleep is the next agenda. You get good sleep, your body heals from the inside. Considered the fact that you exercise and eat well.

Toning up in the gym
Toning the limbs - after getting rid of the fat...

The human skin can stretch. If you put on weight, fat fills the area beneath your skin and puffs you up. Once you experience drastic weight loss, the skin becomes loose. This is a crucial time for you to hit the gym for weight training. I've done the cardio part, shed plenty of weight, but its time to take care of the skin which was once filled with fat. I pinched the skin on my forearms and it was stretching like rubber. So, I signed up at the company gym and underwent a program to tone up. Free weights was on the agenda. I started to curl weights to strengthen my upper body and core area.

Sweating it out at the gym

Curling the dumbbell.. 
After seven months, the moment of truth...

I was scheduled for a blood test on January. Did the usual fasting and prepped myself to see my physician.
She commended me for losing weight and maintaining a regime. The routine has become a part of my life. 
In short, I have changed my lifestyle.

Drawing blood..
The specimen

Normal sugar-levels
After a week, I went back to the physician to obtain my test results.
My hba1c reading was at 5.6%. The sugar-levels were back to normal. But this don't mean I can get back to binge-eating, gulp down Coca-Colas like a thirsty camel, eat what I want and as much as I want.
No Sir. I am not going back on that path again. That said I still have about 8kgs to shed to make it to my ideal weight of 78kgs. 
From 101kg in June last year, I weighed-in at 84.6kg at present. In total, I have lost about 16.4kg. But the war on diabetes is far from over.

My latest blood-glucose reading

With my buddies during Chinese New Year
It's good to know what to do when it comes to staying lean...

My goal is to be clean, lean and strong. I hope to achieve this by regular exercise and having a clean diet.
The last 8kgs is the hardest and I am committed to stay on course to gradually shed all the fat around my belly. I have kept diabetes under control and the next move, is to keep my blood pressure steady and cholesterol levels as low as possible. Can this be done? Absolutely! 

Saturday, March 12, 2016

2016 Raptor Watch

Better late than never...

An Oriental Honey Buzzard soaring close to the Cape's lighthouse
I have been following the Malaysian Nature Society's Raptor Watch since 2013. Never had any luck getting a close-up shot of a bird of prey in flight. Well, until now that is.
Learning from previous experiences, I'd say that I did not rush all the way from my home in Subang Jaya to Port Dickson, which is roughly about 160km on a return trip.
After doing all my chores in the morning, I took a drive down to Seremban. But like Murphy's Law, things can go wrong.
There was an accident near Nilai and traffic was at a crawl for at least 20km. I wasn't phased at all and inched slowly towards the exit to Port Dickson.
Now, the interesting part was this: instead of using the Teluk Kemang coastal road, I can bypass this by heading straight to the Port Dickson polytechnic which is very near to the Tanjung Tuan Forest Reserve.
By the time I reached the junction, my stomach was already rumbling. 

Hitting the road
Lunch break near Cape Rachardo
I made a pit stop near Top Seafood Restaurant near the Tanjung Tuan Forest Reserve. Ordered a plate of fried vermicelli and endured the oily and awful meal. At RM6.50 with a glass of hot Chinese tea, I can't complain. I had to carbo-load for the 1.6km hike up to the lighthouse at the entrance of the Forest Park. And I am hauling about 5kgs of gear on this journey.

My equipment: A full-frame DSLR and an APS-C mirrorless camera

Hiking up to the lighthouse

A T-shirt painter along the route

Raptor awareness merchandise
As expected, the event was packed with people. Parking was rather limited. But lucky for me, I found a nice spot. After locking up the car, I started humping my gear uphill. It was a straight push towards the lighthouse. I must say that my daily physical training has helped a lot as I hiked up the hill without any issues.

Birdwatchers scanning the skies with their photographic equipment
Unlike previous years, access to the lighthouse was granted by the Maritime authority. I made my way to the viewing area and snapped a few shots of the birds that were hovering on top of the treeline.

Buzzards circling the treeline
Flying close to the lighthouse
A fine specimen
Enduring the heat
The weather was excellent for raptors because they need the thermals to assist them to glide in the sky.
Compared to previous years, the 2016 Raptor Watch was awesome. I guess it's pure luck as some of the birds of prey flew really close to the lighthouse.
I snapped away with my camera and long lens and as the day got hotter with lesser birds in the sky, it was my cue to hit the road. 
It took me about an hour and a half to reach home from Tanjung Tuan as I drove non-stop. Back in my room, I downloaded the photos and worked on post-processing a couple of decent shot to share with my friends. I hope next year's Raptor watch would be even better and if the timing is right, I will make another trip.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A little mention goes a long way...

A co-worker of mine alerted me about a mention of my blog on Tern Bicycle's updated website for 2016.
It was a quote on the Tern Eclipse Uno. I did a preview on Tern's 2015 products and was given a mention.
Since I took on a new job in another department within my place of employment, I hardly write about bikes. That's also partly because I have been completely cut off by the local distributor for Tern bicycles. My loss, their gain!
That said, there will be no more bike reviews. This year in particular, it will be more on the rides and adventures...

Into the belly of the Beast...

And the search continues... 

I must say that the one extra, extra wide shoe that is on my hit list was the Brooks Beast 14. I saw this at the Brooks boutique in the Curve mall and was rather disappointed when they don't have the colour I wanted.
I was told that the wait can last up to six months for a new shipment to arrive. 

Well, finally!

I found a size 10.5 (US) 4E Brooks Beast 14 at the 3-2 square in section 19, Petaling Jaya. The shop assistant took the shoe out, I had a fit and was immediately sold on getting it. This pair of running shoes provides a lot of support. I took it out for a 5km walk and it held up. What I love, is the soft cushioning and full gel insole.
This will be a pair of shoes that is going to see a lot of action in my outings. And so far, I am loving it!