Tag Archives: yoga
May 5, 2015

Progress Report: May 2015

8. Eat Tai Ping Koon’s Portuguese Chicken, Hong Kong (my childhood favorite) – CHECK!

 

 

 

 

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It was still good! Food memory is such a powerful thing. It totally brought me back to my childhood eating that Portuguese Chicken.

 

 

23. Conquer the fear of doing a handstand – CHECK!

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Practicing handstand this morning before the library opens. Still not great at it at all. I could only hold it for a few seconds. But the fear of going upside down is pretty manageable now, which was the original goal.

April 1, 2014

Progress Report: April 2014

I can’t believe it’s been 2 years since I came up with the idea for this personal project. Which means that I only have 3 years left to accomplish everything!

So, since November 2013 (my last blog post), I have done the following:

Goal # 1 Visit all 50 states in the US

I went to have a very nice lunch with my college girlfriend in Wilmington, Delaware when I went to Philadelphia for the American Library Association Midwinter Conference. The food was good, and we felt really youthful there, because I think everyone else in that restaurant was over 80 years old.

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Lunch in Delaware with Jen. 1/28/2014

Then in February, I went to Salt Lake City, Utah for the Qualtrics Summit. When I got there, I just rented a car drove to the border cities in Wyoming (Evanston) and Idaho (Malad City) and ate at two local restaurants. The waitress at the restaurant in Evanston, WY was fascinated by my story. Or maybe she was just bored. She recommended a fried chicken dinner which was delicious.

I only have 3 states left: Alaska, Montana, and Kentucky! And I already have a ticket to Kentucky that I need to use before August. So, it looks like this goal could be accomplished very soon. It’s quite unbelievable how many states I visited once I set this goal.

Not that I need any convincing anymore, but setting goals does work!

Goal 13. Get tenure

Looks like I have passed my 5th year review. I will go up for the final review in October this year. We shall see.

Goal 14. Give a kickass presentation

I co-presented a kickass presentation on “Persuasion” techniques at the I2C2 Conference in Manchester, U.K., in March. Credits go to my awesome co-presenters, Isabel Gonzalez-Smith and John Jung.

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Interactive Workshop on “Persuasion” at the I2C2 Conference with Isabel Gonzalez-Smith, and John Jung.

 

Goal 16. Learn Thai massage

Signed up for a one-week Thai Massage course at the Thai Institute of Healing Arts in Arlington, VA in May. Can’t wait!

Goal 29. Mentor someone

This is actually quite exciting. Two people have asked me to be their mentor. TWO! And two of the most awesome people too. Now that I have 2 proteges, I will need to come up with some wise advice. And try not to be like George Costanza.

Goal 34. Create a photo-essay or a video-essay (amended June, 2013)

Ok, this was completed when I made my first travelogue video. But it all started when I decided to make film 1 second of video everyday for a whole year. This project has really taught me patience. I am by nature an impatient person, but the beauty (or the frustration) of this project is, you cannot rush it. You can only add one second each day. It will take 365 days to finish it. It was hard at times, when I felt like it would never be completed. By my god, when it was finally done, it’s a glorious result. I literally love every second of it. And it’s amazing how just one second of video could trigger the memories of so much more. During the year, there were many amazing, happy moments, a few not so great ones. And a lot of yoga, traveling, football, and friends. It’s amazing how just one second of video can trigger my memory for that day. I do not want to forget a single day from now.

And ladies and gentlemen, here is my entire year (41st birthday to 42nd birthday) in one-second moments.

One Second Everyday – My 41st Year (1SE) from 45before45project.com on Vimeo.

P.S. I love my friends. Watching the video really makes me smile.

Goal 37. Be able to do splits

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Top pic: 9/26/2012 vs Bottom pic: 3/21/2014.

It took me over 2 years to finally get into hanumanasana. It really is a great feeling to accomplish a goal after working on it for so long. It’s funny that I had this idea in my head way back in late 2011, that if I could the splits when I was 40, that would mean that I would be in the best shape of my life because I had never been able to do that. My original goal was to be able to do that by the end of 2012, which obviously didn’t happen. It’s funny that it’s this silly desire to get into the splits that led me to yoga, which has transformed my life in so many ways.

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On my 42nd birthday.

Goal 38. Completely revamp my wardrobe

Getting there, getting there.

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Sorted out another batch of clothes.

 

November 15, 2013

Progress Update: November 2013

I can’t believe it’s been over 3 months since I updated this blog. Time flies when you procrastinate. I have been updating the Facebook page regularly though, so please go “like” it.

Goal #1. Visit all 50 states in the US

In September, I presented at the Mountain Plains Library Association conference in Sioux Falls, SD, and then went on a road trip and visited North Dakota and Iowa.

3 new states in 3 days, that’s pretty good.

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Iowa

Just 7 more states to go to accomplish this goal:

  • Alaska
  • Idaho
  • Utah
  • Wyoming
  • Montana
  • Kentucky
  • Delaware

Goal #2. Set foot on all 7 continents

Now 1 closer. I went to the Pangborn Sensory Science Symposium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in the summer, and set foot on South America for the very 1st time. Now 3 more to go: Antarctica, Australia and Africa.

Speaking of Brazil…

Goal #4. See a football match at Estadio do Maracana, Rio, Brazil

It’s such a iconic stadium and it was just completed when I went. Loved it!

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Estadio do Maracana

 

Goal #23. Conquer the fear of doing a handstand

Definitely making progress, but there are good days and bad days.

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Handstanding in the office

 

Goal #39 Run a 5k

It was freaking tough! I am not built to run and I will never enjoy running. But I did it! With my yogi friend Lindsey’s support (who ran slowly with me the entire way), I finished it! In fact, we were both winners in our respected age group. I am not telling anyone how many people actually ran. 🙂

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Before. After. Winner!!

 

March 31, 2013

Jumping out of a plane and other progress updates

Goal #24 Jump out of a plane (preferably with a parachute) – COMPLETED!!

SKydive

Jumping out of a plane at 14,000 ft on my 41st birthday (with Bob). Deland, Florida.

All I can say about that 1 second when you jump out of plane for the first time is, it’s freaking surreal!

I wasn’t scared at all. I wasn’t even nervous. I was surprisingly calm for someone who’s about to leap off a flying plane for the 1st time. I felt that way mainly because of my complete trust in my tandem buddy, Bob Crossman (of Skydive Deland). He has jumped more than 9500 times, and he made me feel very safe throughout. I met Bob on a yoga retreat with his fiancé, Kathryn Budig. When I told him about this goal, he explained the whole process to me. By understanding what actually goes on really helped me dispel the initial fear. Bob was also so welcoming and friendly that I knew I want to jump with him.

That being said, when we leaped off, it was “OH MY GOD, THIS IS CRAZY!!!” and then, “oooohh, this is reeeeally cool….”. It was the most liberating feeling ever. The free fall was indescribably awesome. It was a complete sensory overload, but in a very good way. I was a like puppy sticking his head out of a driving car for the 1st time. I was like, “weeeeeeeee….”. I wanted it to last forever (so it was a good thing that Bob was strapped to me to open the parachute!). The gliding after the parachute was opened was actually more scary to me than the free fall.

This goal is listed under “Courage”. I think my perspective has changed after jumping off a plane at 14,000 feet. I actually do feel more courageous now. 🙂 Sometimes you have to take a leap to live your life. It was an absolutely amazing experience, and I am so glad I did it.

Some thoughts on some of the goals

I knew when I made the list that some goals would be difficult to measure and there wouldn’t really be a “mission accomplished” state, such as Goal #31 Be aware of praiseworthy situations and efforts, and pay sincere compliments to people. I was willing to give it a go because I really did want to become someone who proactively gives sincere compliments to people. It makes people happy, you know. However, this is proving to be more difficult than expected, simply because I don’t always remember this goal, and it is not my habit to praise people often (hence this goal). I think this kind of behavioral change requires constant reminding, and I am not doing a good job of it. After all, it’s not as straightforward as, for example, visiting 50 states. or skydiving.

In fact, after more than 8 months of living this project, I am getting a much better perspective of how some goals are not set up the right way, such as this one, or Goal #42 Value chance encounters and take initiatives to get to know interesting people. In theory, it’s a good intention. But in practice it’s frustrating not to be able to “cross it off”, so to speak. Another one is Goal #21 Learn CPR. After listening to a RadioLab podcast about how low the success rate is of applying CPR (around 3%), and how often the person (the non-pros) who applies the CPR end up cracking the ribs of the patient, I am now having second thoughts of this goal. Is it worth learning something that is not that useful? And would I feel comfortable or confident enough to apply it after learning it? I think I will give the list a whole year before amending or changing any of the goals. But I am thinking about a few of them.

Other progress updates:

Goal #1. Visit all 50 states in the US

41st birthday road trip 2013

My 41st birthday/Spring Break road trip. (3/16/2013-3/23/2013)

On my week-long birthday road trip, I hit 3 new states: North Carolina, South Carolina and Mississippi. It was a LOT of driving. I also ate at 9 restaurants featured on the Food Network show, Diners Drive-ins and Dives (it’s a mini-project of mine which started simply because I saw on the show a place called, Leo’s BBQ. I went that one and the rest is history. I have now been to more than 70!). I also met up with friends along the way, celebrated my birthday with them, which was the best part of the whole trip.

I have 11 more states to visit to complete this goal:

  1. Alaska
  2. Delaware
  3. Idaho
  4. Iowa
  5. Kentucky (going there in August to present at a library conference)
  6. Montana
  7. North Dakota (possibly in the fall when I present at the South Dakota conference)
  8. South Dakota (going there in the fall for a library conference)
  9. Utah
  10. Wisconsin
  11. Wyoming

My target is to visit 3 more states by the end of the year. Most likely they will be South Dakota, North Dakota, and Kentucky.

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Clockwise from top left corner: at Penguin Drive-ins in Charlotte, NC; South Carolina Welcome Center; North Carolina BBQ; in Mississippi.

Goal #5 Practice yoga in India

The news is, we (the sensory analysis group) will be going to India during the Thanksgiving week this year!! That’s all I know for now. But, soooo excited!!!

Goal #7 Dine at Noma (Chef René Redzepi), Copenhagen, Denmark

Oh I tried. I wanted to go to Copenhagen before my Rome conference. So I tried to make a reservation when their online reservation opened.  The tables on the dates I wanted were booked within minutes. Ugh! I read that there were cases of food poisoning at Noma recently. I was really hoping for cancellations. No such luck. This goal is proving to be quite difficult.

Goal #13 Get tenure

I got my official reappointment letter for 2013-2014! So, yippy! I still have a job.  Two more tenure and promotion reviews to go. If everything goes smoothly, I will go up for tenure in October 2014.

Goal #18 Learn a new word every week and use that word at least 5 times that week

I have been a bit lazy on learning new words. But, still some interesting ones.

hypnopompic (adj) – Of or pertaining to the semiconscious state prior to complete wakefulness.

lollapalooza (noun) – an extraordinary or unusual thing, person, or event.

bibelot (noun) – a small object of curiosity, beauty, or rarity.

This is another goal that I am thinking about modifying. I keep forgetting to do it every week. Routine doesn’t work well for me on a long term basis. I am considering changing it to something like, learn 100 new words by my 45th birthday. What do you think?

Goal #19 Learn how to iron a shirt (trousers and jackets would a bonus)

I haven’t started learning it yet but I am starting my research on good tutorials. And I found this awesome one.

Goal #36 Achieve and maintain ideal weight

As of March 14, 2013, I weighed 205.5 lbs, which means I have lost 37.5lbs since Dec.,27,  2011.  The weight loss has slowed down a lot, but I feel that this is the healthy way to get to my target weight range of 180-190lbs.

Disclaimer: I stepped on the scale before my week-long birthday/Spring Break Diners Drive-ins and Dives road trip. I didn’t practice as much yoga since 3/14 because of the crazy schedule of late. It’s very likely that I have to gained a few pounds back. I plan to step on the scale once a month, which will be the week of 4/18. I still have a couple of weeks to get back in shape. 🙂

Goal #43 See Leo Messi play in person

When I was younger, I never got to see Deigo Maradona play in person, and it’s always been a regret. There have been great players since him, but it is only until now that we have Lionel Messi, who could really be compared to Maradona. Messi dribbling in full flight is thing of true  beauty, and I want to see that in person. This goal is listed under “no regrets”.

I will be presenting at a conference in Rome, Italy in June. Messi plays for Barcelona. Barcelona play their final home match (vs Malaga) on June 1st. Most likely, they will have won the league before then, but I think there will be a great celebration at the stadium after the final whistle of the season. Therefore, I am going to Barcelona before my conference (ticket booked!!!). Now, I just need to find a ticket for that match (it’s not easy to come by), and hope that Messi stays injury-free.

January 21, 2013

Splits progress 2013-1-20

Goal # 37 – Be able to do splits.

At the new year yoga retreat, when I was practicing yoga 3 hours a day, I could really sense some progress. But I admit I have been slacking off a bit lately, at least in terms of stretching. It is difficult when you have to work full time. When do people have time to do the splits?!

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Even Siri doesn’t know. Anyway, today, we did some good hamstrings stretching int the Yoga for Athletes class at Orange Sky Yoga. So after class, I just had to ask my friend Sarah to take some pictures of me  to check my progress.

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Hanuman progress (1/20/2013), after “Yoga for Athletes” class.

It’s getting close but not quite. My new friend Scott at the yoga retreat taught me a few useful stretches for the “home stretch”, so to speak. I am going to try them out, and I am hoping to get to full hanumanasana in the next few weeks. Stay tuned! 🙂

December 14, 2012

Splits progress

My Hanumanasana (split pose) so far. (9/5/2012)

My Hanumanasana (split pose) so far. (9/5/2012)

Hanumanasana on 9/26/2012 @ 6am.

Hanumanasana on 9/26/2012 @ 6am.

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Hanumanasana 12/12/12 6:30am.

The progress up to this point (12/12/2012) is “subtle”, and I must confess that I hadn’t worked on this pose much in the past month or so. Instead, I spent most of my stretching time on hip-opening stretches like single and double pigeon poses, and half lotus. Hanuman is a super intense pose for me, and I think I sometimes rather do other stretches because of that. Now that I have said it out, I recognize that it is an excuse. Of course it’s hard! The only way to achieve this goal is to practice it regularly. I am going to do just that! *pump fist*

From the pics above, it looks like I am getting just slightly closer to the floor, especially my back leg. I don’t see a lot of progress on the front leg though. The biggest improvement is I am able to hold my upperbody in a more upright position, which is the correct form of the pose.

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12/14/2012 6:30am. Either smiling or grimacing.

This morning (12/14/2012), I worked on only stretches that help doing the splits. After about 30mins of stretching, it’s amazing how much closer I was able to get to the floor. I was a bit disappointed 2 days ago about my progress, and doubted that I would ever be able to do this pose. I feel a lot more encouraged today. It just shows that targeted practice is so important in getting results.

Here is Kino MacGregor showing how to do Hanumanasana properly:

September 7, 2012

A lighter, healthier me

 “It’s easy to quit smoking. I’ve done it hundreds of times.”  

~~ Mark Twain

I quit smoking on February 27th, 2007. It was probably the toughest thing I have ever done. It was also a turning point in my life. Not only did I got rid of a nasty and expensive habit, I actually accomplished something really tough by shifting my mindset and by being perseverant. That experience might very well be the genesis of this 45 things project.

While my lungs were definitely better, other parts of me were not so great in 2011. At the beginning of the year, I hurt my back and the pain never seemed to want to go away. Then I caught an eye virus that was making the rounds in my city. It made my vision blurry for about 3 months. Imagine staring at an out of focus computer screen all day for 3 months. That was nothing my eye doctor could really do, since it was a virus, and we just had to let it slowly get better. He was comforting though – at least my eyes weren’t bleeding, like some of his more serious patients!

Blasted kidney stones. And a stent and a tube inside me. Not a pleasant experience!

As my eyes slowly got better, my back pain was getting worse. It turns out that it wasn’t a muscle strain or anything like that, but kidney stones! Yikes. We blasted the stones. Twice. The whole process was, let’s say, a character building exercise.

That December (2011), after all the holiday feasts, I had the courage to step on a scale for some reasons.

243lbs!

While there’re many good things about being a non-smoker, the one drawback was the inevitable weight gain.  In the 5 years since I quit smoking, I had gained at least 40 lbs! That number was both depressing, and ultimately uplifting (more on this later). It was depressing because it was the heaviest that I had ever weighed. For my height (6 feet), my healthy weight range should be between 140lbs and 184lbs. Since I have a large body frame, my healthy weight should be closer to the upper range (which was my college weight).  Even so, I was at least 59 lbs overweight! No wonder my blood pressure and cholesterol level were high.

I had tried exercising. In fact I was doing P90X earlier in the year when I thought I hurt my back (but it was the kidney stones causing the pain). But I had never enjoyed working out – all the jumping around makes me mad. So it’s not a surprise that I could never stick to any exercise routine consistently. But that simply had to change. I was going turn 40 in 2012, and if I didn’t do something about my body, it would only get worse. So, the objective is to get into the best shape I’ve ever been (since I have never been in really good shape, it’s not as tough as it sounds).

Goal #1: Get my weight down to the 180-190lbs range. Since I was at the weight range in college, it wouldn’t really constitute “the best shape ever”,

So Goal #2: Be able to do the splits, which I have never ever done in my life, therefore if I could do it in my 40’s, I would be in my best shape (at least in terms of flexibility) ever.

And Goal #3: run a 5K. I am bad at running. Very bad at it. I blame in on my flat feet, underpronation, and well, laziness.  I don’t think I have ever run 3 miles continuously without needing to stop. So, if I could do that now, then I could claim the “best shape ever” description.

Hitting 243lbs was certainly depressing at first, but this number actually became the engine to drive all these goals for me to become a healthier person. So, it actually an uplifting number. 🙂

I want to be able to do that. “This woman is 93 years old and lives in Changzhi, a city in Shanxi, China.  According to her, she stays healthy by exercising regularly every morning”.

Do you have any health or fitness goals? How do you stay in shape?

Update: I was 243lbs on 27th Dec., 2011. I started doing yoga in mid-January, 2012. As of 9/6/2012, I weigh 214lb – which means I have lost 29lbs in 9 months! Going to that very first yoga class was probably one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. (Big thank you to my friend, Lis Pankl, for encouraging/insisting/pestering me to do it!). More about yoga in later posts. 🙂

My Hanumanasana (split pose) so far. (on 9/5/2012,very early in the morning.)


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