Running to the Taj

A couple of weekends ago I started running in our neighborhood and slowly started venturing out into nearby residential areas as well. While analyzing the data from one of my previous runs I realized my path was close to where the Taj Mahal replica mosque was located. This weekend I decided to go the extra distance and get a glimpse of this mosque. Location is [here] I covered a total distance of 11.89 Kilometers and although my legs were cramped afterwards it was totally worth it.

I’d love to shoot this mosque once all the work is complete and the lights are in place, till then enjoy these pictures. You can click on the last two pictures to view them in larger sizes.

Fatem Al Zahraa Mosque - sideFatem Al Zahraa Mosque - front

My Tracks – Android app

It’s been a while since I’ve taken a long walk so this weekend I made some free time for myself and went out for a couple of hours. Now before I set off I checked for any tracking apps or GPS tracker apps and came across My Tracks. Its a very small application that records your every position as you go your way. Tracking is done via GPS satellites and therefore its sure to be accurate down to a couple of meters.

You can set markers along the way and each way-point is tagged with the time and GPS coordinates, you can also add a small description or comment. I just took a long route and then took an alternate route back home. Along the way I made a couple of stops at the supermarket and Alghanim Xcite and that’s why the total time taken is longer than usual. Now for my next walk I’m going to look for an app that will calculate the calories as well.

Once you’ve reached your destination or completed your walk you can upload the path to Google Maps and this can be sent to your friends or saved for future reference.

My Tracks [link]


View 2011-05-06 19:50 in a larger map

Switching drinks – Prostar Whey Protein

I finally managed to finish my stock of Nestle’s Optifast that my dietician had prescribed for me last year and now I’m free to buy a more hardcore protein drink so I opted for Ultimate Nutrition’s Prostar Whey Protein. Since I’m losing weight and cutting down on my heavy workouts I’ve started replacing my dinner with an energy drink. This serves as both my Post-workout drink and dinner.  Here’s two recipes; one from my friend Cajie and the other formulated by yours truly.

Nestle’s Optifast is a low calorie protein drink that I bought from India. Each serving comes in a packet – cost 110 Rs per packet.

Prostar: It comes in a variety of sizes, I bought the medium one with 80 servings. One jar is 19 KD. You can buy it from the nutrition shop opposite Geant in 360 Mall.

Cajie’s formula
1. One Cup Whey Protein (Double Chocolate Flavor)
2. 1 spoon of Peanut Butter
3. A dab of instant coffee
4. 1 Oreo Cookie
5. Ice Cubes
6. A cup of low-fat milk
7. Optional: A dash of flax seed powder

Mathai’s formula
1. One scoop whey protein powder
2. One table spoon flax seed powder
3. One pinch instant coffee
4. One semi-frozen KDD chocolate milk box
5. One digestive biscuit – broken into small bits
6. One ripe chiquita banana (optional, I add the banana sometimes to compensate for less carbs and potassium in my diet)

More info:
Chocolate milk diet [link]
Chiquita bananas [link]

All about oats

I’ve been having oats 5 or 6 days a week now for about a year and a half and although this fantastic health food has not transformed me into superman it has, however, done wonders for my blood glucose and cholesterol levels. Now initially I hated oats coz it was bland and yucky and that’s when I discovered rolled oats and steel cut oats. Now I’ll just list the varieties of oats available in Kuwait and my short description for each type;

Quick cooking oats – this variety also called white oats is the most commonly found oats. They’re basically bleached and refined oats with less fiber than the real deal.(available everywhere)

Instant oats – these little packets of instant oats may be convinient and tasty but they contain a whole lot of sugar and flavoring agents. (TSC, Carrefour, Lulu Qurain)

Whole grain/Rolled/ Organic oats – These oats are your stepping stone to healthier breakfats. They’re not as processed as the quick cooking variety so you get more fiber per meal and they taste better. (Lulu Qurain)

Old Fashioned oats – These oats are basically just flattened oat grains with minimal processing and bleaching. They have a stronger and thicker texture than the above varieties. (TSC Souk Sharq but you have to be quick to get a few cans coz they go out of stock quickly)

Steel cut oats – Now finally this is the mother of all mega breakfasts. These babies are the real deal and it doesn’t get better than this. These oats are just cut into small chunks by steel blades and thats it, no processing or bleaching is done here so that you get the benefit of all that fiber. (Till now I’ve only seen them at Lulu Qurain and nowhere else)

Additional links;
Eat more oats [link]
Steel Cut Oats [link]

Staying motivated

Its a little difficult to stay motivated in your fitness regimen if you’re not seeing fast results. This happens to the best of us and there are many ways to get inspired.

Real life fitness stories:
I’m not talking about those fake before and after TV ads where a fat guy magically transforms into a Greek god after exercising for only 30 seconds a day for 1 week (makes no sense, does it? :P) There are real people out there who’ve spent years religiously adhering to their workout and diet schedules and ultimately transformed themselves into healthier and better looking individuals. I read the transformation stories on my usual fitness sites to get a boost from time to time. I mean take a look at these two examples and tell me you’re not inspired.

Ex- smoker and heavy drink – John Stone [link] and regular fat guy – Mark Irwin [link]

Music is another great motivator so get your blood pumping with some classic rock. One of my favorite workout albums is the Rocky OST collection. If ‘Eye of the Tiger’ doesn’t make you wanna get down on the floor and do a hundred push-ups then there’s something wrong with you! Basically any heavy rock music works for me but each person is different so its OK if you listen to Venga Boys or Aqua while working out but just don’t come near me.

Self Assessments:
I weigh myself DAILY! Yes, 7 days a week. Its best to do it at the same time everyday so that you get consistent conditions. Most experts says its best in the morning after you’ve woken up and voided your bowels. You have to measure your body parts as well. and make sure that your hard work is paying off.  There’s no bigger pleasure than seeing those triceps popping out when you extend your hand or seeing your calf muscles roll up into a ball of steel when you lift your heels. Use a tape measure to take regular measurements although be advised that size increases will not be as dramatic as you imagine and time is a crucial factor in these things.

Buy smaller clothes or tighten your belt:
If you’re comfortable in your loose clothes then you’ll stay comfortable forever, tight clothes will be a constant reminder that you’re too fat to fit in it. I got all my belts punched with new holes farther and farther away from the end and each time it gets loose I just go onto the next hole till its tight again.

Honest friends: If your friend is honest he would probably say something like ‘Dude your moobs (man boobs) are huge!’ or ‘Dude when was the last time you saw your own penis?’ and that in my opinion is better than some guy saying ‘oh you look great in that t-shirt’ 😀

I wish you all good health, watch this video and have a great weekend.

Proform 500F battery replacement

I’ve gone thru my second set of batteries on the elliptical machine I bought earlier this year. The previous set just lasted 6 months but it could also be attributed to me increasing my workout time to 90 minutes with maximum resistance at #7. This time I bought a set of Duracell D types so lets see how well they do.

Removing the front panel is quite easy and you just need a small size Philips head screwdriver to remove both fastening screws. Lift up the front plate and then replace all 4 batteries. Now there is a power socket on the underside of the console so this machine will work on a power adapter, which will be cheaper for me in the long run. I found the product details on the Proform website so now I’ll have to find out if Sears carries this part or I’ll have to source it locally.

Proform power adapter [link]

Activia – Is it good for you?

I’ve been consuming Activia both in Yogurt and Laban form and for me it seems as though its working fine in helping my digestion. Now this could be a psychological feeling but I don’t see any harm in the product and their flavored yogurt is better than the other supermarket brands I tried earlier. One plus point is that its less than 150 calories for one pot of Activia yogurt and I usually have it after my evening working along with a couple of spoons of flax seed powder.

I checked the ‘pro-biotic’ that they use and its called Bifidus Actiregularis and is supposedly good for digestion but there seems to be some controversy regarding its effectiveness. Well at least you don’t have to stand in line to enjoy a cup of yogurt. 🙂

Push ups – Do it army style

One of the important things to do while your training your body is to keep raising the bar as you get comfortable with a certain routine or workout item. My friend Cajie had introduced me to the US Army Physical Fitness Test Scores (APFT) and it motivates you to increase your stamina and energy levels so that you’re at least 3/4ths as good as a military man.

You can view the Military score card here [link] and they also provide a training plan [link] that should hopefully get your endurance and strength up to their levels. I’ve been slacking off lately so my peak is at 32 reps. According to their scoring system thats ranked 53/100 where 77 reps gives you a perfect score.

Additional links

Hundred push [link]

e-How: How to do military push ups [link]

Fitness advice from a Fat Guy

My Kettler adjustable dumbells and Grizzly weightlifter's gloves

Now getting health advice from a fat guy might be like getting sexual counseling from a Catholic priest or Barbecuing tips from a vegetarian but here’s a few things that’s worked for me so far;

I’ve been ‘Big’ all my life, some would prefer the word ‘Big boned’ or ‘well nourished’ but it all boils down to plain ol’ body fat. Thanks to a strict diet of booze and fast food during my college days back in India I swelled up to a massive 112 Kilograms and would get red in the face whenever I had to take a flight of stairs or run after a bus. A couple of years ago I decided enough was enough and I needed to get back in shape and live a little longer. Now two years later, although I’m still a little overweight, I can run up a few floors without fainting, swim a couple of laps without sinking like a stone and even took part in the annual NBK Walkathon two years in a row and completed the full course of 8 Kilometers without even getting out of breath.

Eat healthy
Its extremely important to eat a well balanced nutritious meal. Our bodies need a combination of proteins, carbohydrates, fibers, vitamins, minerals and even fats/oils for our day-to-day activities.

.Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and should have enough carbs to jump start your metabolism and give you energy for the start of the day. Complex carbs found in oats and whole wheat breaks down slowly and steadily in your body without spiking your sugar levels.

.A mid morning snack like an apple or a banana is good since it fills your stomach and thus you’re not tempted to buy a croissant or cinnamon bun from the snack cart.

.Lunch is usually 5 hours after you’ve had breakfast so now your stomach is ready for the next proper meal. A good balanced lunch should contain lean protein like lean meat, chicken or fish. You also need vegetables and some form or carbs like rice, bread or potatoes but not all of them at the same time. Most Indian meals will contain rice, chapati and potatoes so you’re overloading on carbs!

.An evening snack/pre-workout snack like an energy bar or a handful of nuts and tea is adequate.

.Dinner/post work out meal should ideally be half an hour or an hour after your workout, this should be the lightest meal of the day and does’nt have to contain as much carbs as your lunch. Personally I just have some fruit and a pot of Activia yogurt mixed with powdered Flax seeds. This may be too little for some people but I sleep early so this works for me. The rule of thumb is that you should have your last meal of the day at least 3 hours before bedtime.

Count those calories
Noting down what you eat during the day is a great way to keep track of calories and you’ll know for sure if you’re within your daily limits. This calorie counter helps you to track your dailt intake as well as your output during exercise.

My calorie counter [link]

Forget fad diets
Every now and then you’ll hear about some friend of yours whos on the ‘GM’ or ‘GE’ diet (both of which are just hoaxes), Atkins diets and other similar diets either restrict your intake or necessary food groups or encourage you to eat excessive amounts of a particular food group. Let me tell you something, THERES NO MIRACLE DIET. Here’s some additional information on these diets

Fad diets Wikipedia [link]
Cabbage soup diet Wikipedia [link]

Losing Fat
There are lots of misconceptions about fat and fat loss. The most common misconception is that you lose fat if you sweat or spend time in a steam room or sauna. Fat is fat and water is water, whenever you sweat or sit in a steam room your body loses water and this may show up on your scales as a weight loss. Pretty soon you regain the lost water and you’re back to square one. The only ‘good’ way to lose body fat is thru physical activity. In the long run this assures permanent fat loss and you gain muscle mass, its a win-win situation!

Facts about fat [link]

Dont overdo those crunches
Another myth about fat loss is that if you work a body part long enough you’ll lose fat from that area. This is completely false, if you work your stomach muscles you might be losing fat from your thighs or arms. During my conversations with a certified dietician I was informed that fat loss begins from the areas that accumulated the latest, so that means places like your tummy and behind (which are usually the places that gain fat first) will be the last places to lose fat. So dont be discouraged if you dont feel an immediate size reduction in your mid-rif, you might be losing fat from your arms and legs and then slowly will start losing from your mid section.
Spot reduction myth [link]

Water is your friend
A good way to keep away cravings and keep your body hydrated is to drink plenty of water all throughout the day. Often when you ‘feel’ hungry it may not be hunger at all but a craving for water. Drinking excess amounts of sugary juices or soda(even diet soda) is not a good idea if you’re trying to lose weight.
Importance of staying hydrated [link]

Get off that sofa
The first step towards a healthy lifestyle is getting off that sofa and doing some physical activity like walking or running. You dont have to start running the marathon to be healthy. Find out what works best for you, brisk walking, jogging, stair climbing, swimming etc it doesnt matter as long as you enjoy it and gives you a good workout. One thing about excercise is to keep in mind that the body starts working on your fat reserves only after 30 minutes of physical activity. Therefore during your 1 hour workout, the first 30 minutes you’re not losing fat but rather your body is warming up and then the next 30 minutes is when the stored fat in your body is utilized to provide energy for the workout.

Pump it up
Lifting weights or resistance training is a great way to build muscle mass and one good thing about muscles is that they burn calories even while you sleep! Try to exercise at least one part of your body once a week and keep rotating your schedule so you dont feel bored. Some people I know are reluctant to lift weights and say that they dont want to look like Arnold. Dont worry you’ll never have to worry about looking like that coz that takes decades of dedicated workouts 🙂

My friend and fellow blogger Cajie has a blog dedicated to fitness and you can find more information on health and fitness there. He has also provided tons of valuable tips on fitness.
Running for Six-pack [link]

Fahad from Core Fitness now has his very own blog; Trying to be Fahad [link]

**Disclaimer: I’m not a certified trainer or dietitian. These are just a few things that have worked for me, your body might be different and hence react differently. Always consult a doctor or a trained fitness expert before attempting a new activity. I wish you good health.

Weekend breakfast

Over the past 4 or 5 months I’ve been religiously counting my daily calorie intake in an effort to lead a healthy lifestyle. I’m not a long distance runner but one of my influences in shaping my daily work out routine and diet has been Cajie’s new fitness blog and his wealth of advice on fitness and nutrition.
Weekend Fry-up Breakfast
5 days a week my breakfast is Quaker Old Fashioned Oats cooked in approximately 200 ml of Al Marai Vetal Milk, combined with some chopped fruits. This provides approximately 500 calories and is one of my most important meals of the day. On other days I have a combination of Protein and Carbohydrates like eggs and whole wheat or multi-grain toast with a helping of milk. But this weekend I said to myself “aw fuckit” and made myself a sumptuous proper fry-up breakfast.This is what I had; 2 eggs, 3 slices of beef luncheon, 2 slices of tomato, 1 hash brown, a side of Tabouleh and a glass of freshly squeezed Orange juice. Luckily for me this seemingly decadent breakfast was only around 500 calories when I checked it against my calorie counter. 🙂

Start your own calorie counter journal [link]