The First of the Four Walls

You know, these days I no longer have the patience and tolerance to waste my time on things that do not make any sense. And the things that make sense are stuff that improve myself, the outlook of my life, or further the views that I stand for.

In this rather lengthy post, I am sharing you what would appear to be the first of the four walls that represents the limits that prevent me from becoming the person that I imagined to be.

WALL #1 THE FITNESS WALL

I have always wanted to be fit and good-looking, to be able to participate in sports, and to inspire others who think they are stuck health-wise to break their own walls. Who else wouldn’t?

It was not, however, until early February this year that I reached a point in my life where I could no longer afford to be less than my best. It occurred shortly after my British close friend named Alex pointed at my protruding belly and asked me publicly whilst we were having a nice day at a waterpark why I had it. “John, what’s that?” – I was left speechless and unable to summon any valid reason to say. It stirred my brain and I spent the succeeding nights mulling about the problem until I reached a decision to do something about it.

That event highlighted a major problem area that goes beyond my belly. I realised that I have one life to live, and I want to be the best in areas that I can be best. “The best” in a sense that I don’t allow myself to perform or act insensibly. “The best” in a sense that I reach the level of responsibility where I get to have what I want without causing unnecessary burden to myself and other people.  I thought that if I really want to improve the other areas of my life, and there are many of them, I have to start somewhere. I have to start in me. If I really want to break my limits, I have to focus on somewhere where I can win. Exactly the words of my American close friend Rich, who is running a business here in Asia.

And so I made a resolve.

On the night of 4 February 2014, I went to my gym at Fitness First to know where I am in my health. At least my body weight, for starters. I figured that my weight was 78.6 kilograms, borderline obese. It terrified me, especially because I was already being active during those days (meaning to say, I even weighed more just a few months before).

And so I created a new project called “Heightened Active Lifestyle”. In this program, I obliged myself to invest a huge amount of my time on improving my health and to monitor the progress of my fitness efforts publicly. I shared my progress on Facebook, and allow other people, especially those who have better fitness, to comment on my posts so to help shape the direction of the project, ultimately enforcing that I am doing the right thing.

The foundation of my Heightened Active Lifestyle are the following:

  • High-level plant-based diet
  • No alcohol
  • Increased physical activity and compulsory daily exercise
  • No carbohydrate intake from rice, bread or pasta under normal circumstances
  • Near total sugar and sodium ban from all processed foods and drinks
  • Increased protein intake
  • Quality sleep

Every day, I ate only the foods that make sense. From someone who didn’t care about the food he eats, I became super fussy and conscious on the quality of food that goes into my mouth. I figured, that my body don’t deserve anything less than quality. I also figured that there are foods that are less evil and brings the exact same level of satisfaction and happiness, but still very tasty.

I ate to respond to hunger and I stopped eating when I feel full. It was very hard in the first month but as days go by, I was drawn into a bigger picture that what I have been doing actually makes so much sense. I augmented my gym workouts with other physical activities. I started climbing mountains – many mountains – and more recently, running. They are now part of my life.

I logged and counted each day of the project – and still am. It serves as a constant reminder that I am on a mission to mastering self-discpline. Over the weeks and months, I started to see the difference. People began to notice something and started telling me that I’ve lost weight. My body composition changed and I started to notice myself that I looked very different back then and now. So different that I started asking myself how I even let myself to loosen up so much in the past. The return of youthful energy and improvement in relationships in life and at work, are priceless.

I now weigh 66.5 kilograms, a kilogram-and-a-half shy from my weight goal. That’s something I initially thought isn’t possible.

It appears that I’ve cracked my first wall. However, it’s not completely broken yet. The day is yet to come for me to see it crumble. There is still a little bit of spare tyre. And whilst it’s true that I’ve already gone far in destroying it, it also holds true that since I’ve gone this far, might as well totally obliterate it. And I will.  After all, the destruction of the “fitness wall” will then make my life easier in breaking the next wall – the “Athletics Wall.” I will write about that in my next post.

For now, thanks for reading and have a great evening.

Training For My First Marathon

I am not really fond of running before, especially running long distance. Running a kilometre was an ordeal, especially when you are a carrying over a 76-kilogram body.

The last time I ran long distance was when I was dumped by someone dear to me. At that time, running offered a greater pain to an aching heart. It was like a drug. I would reach home (at that time, in an office) fully exhausted with no other option after having a cold shower than sleep, escaping moments of solitude where the heartache hurts the most.

In those nights, I was running almost everyday for about 10 kilometres on average and my legs would feel completely sore after. I ran from Chinatown, Singapore to the three quays of the Singapore River. My track each night would constantly change. I stopped running as soon as I felt that I’ve adequately moved on from the situation. As the years passed, I gained even so much more weight.

Looking back those times now, it  never stops to surprise me that running long distance don’t make my legs feel as sore as before. We just amazingly smashed a 35 kilometre slow and long endurance run today with a Canadian friend named Jonathan whom I’ve met in my first half-marathon race which occurred last month. We ran over 35 kilometres from Redhill MRT Station down to Alexandra Road until we reached Labrador Park. From Labrador Park, we ran towards the city, passing through Marina Bay area and did our finish at the very end of East Coast Park in the southeastern part of Singapore.

Today’s run is one of the longest runs I had recently, with the 30 kilometres run we had last Sunday morning being the second longest one by far. We ran with a Singaporean friend named Andy.

These activities that we do are part of our effort to do a strong finish in our next (actually, my first ever) full marathon attempt scheduled to occur next month in this country — the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore. For the first time, I will be running the road for a marathon distance (about 42.2 kilometres). That’s just mental, and it is! Even today’s grueling 35 km run is nothing, the next 7 kilometres will feel very challenging mentally and physically!

I am just happy that the “peak training week” has ended today. There is about three weeks left before the race day, however, the next two weeks will be “taper weeks” — meaning to say, we won’t be running as much distance, but we will still be running, albeit in a faster, race-day style pace.

The next endurance training run is set on Tuesday night. Sixteen kilometres and the next few nights over the weekdays will involve a few running sessions as well.

Though my legs are sore as I am writing this, it’s not quite the kind of soreness I expected after running 35 kilometres, especially with no elaborate water points and aid stations. I expected my legs to be completely jelly but it doesn’t feel like it. It is amazing. I guess my legs are just getting used to getting pounded on the road all the time.

I am really looking forward to the next training runs. I want to finish strong my first full marathon, in preparation for next year’s series of road and mountain marathons. Next year when I become a real athlete and my legs will take me to new places.

A Life of Adventure

Hi my old friends and new!

I knew way back in 2011 that living a life of adventure and seeing more of the world would be some of my life’s biggest challenge, if not the greatest, given my overall circumstances. I was working home-based for a Canadian-based hosting company making websites and doing remote technical and sales support. With comfortable life working in my bedroom, I felt increasingly insecure with the fact that my job didn’t allow me to see more of the world, while my age advances. I reached a tipping point and decided to find ways to leave my country.

Fast forward three years later, I am here now in Singapore. I am working for a multinational communications agency, serving some of the world’s most prominent brands.

In the past three years in this country, my life has rolled up and down many times. I found a job, lost it, found a new one, and met a lot of awesome people that helped shape my story along the way — with a few of them grew close to my chest. It was not, however, until early this year that I decided to take a firm stand to stop things that don’t mean anything or do not make sense — things that waste my time — and to restart chasing after what I really want for my life.  And what I really want for my life roots back from the primary cause why I left my country that has since snowballed.

This year, people who knew me saw a massive and drastic shift in my life. I invested a huge chunk of my waking hours in the gym, started climbing mountains in Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam — and more recently, indulged into running. All leading to a quick turnaround and sharp improvement of my fitness.  It felt great as I could personally see the significant difference between the body and energy level I had 12 months ago and now.  The fact that my improved fitness allowed me to engage in physical activities that have led me to explore and discover new places and new countries brought so much excitement to me.

Until last week when I hit a major wall.

After more than a month of all-out effort, my application for a short term tourist visa meant for an adventurous 9-day holiday in New Zealand was turned down twice in a row for a variety of reasons. Reasons that I am now personally pumped to address in the upcoming months through engagement in sports.

It has brought to the fore the issue I reckoned years ago. The issue with regards to my circumstance and how things that I did not choose to be have made my life harder in seeing more of the world.

My name is John Raul and my life is an adventure.

Welcome to my blog.

 

A blog of an adventurer