Treadmill Running

For as long as I could remember, I never liked running. When I was in army, the 2.4km run was one of my most dreaded activity, second only to the mandatory Chin-ups before breakfast. 

Today, this is no longer the case. Ever since I started on the new regime, I find myself running three to five times a week. I’m convinced it’s the effect of endorphins on the body and the mind, but I think we have to give credit to how we started building this habit.

If you’re thinking of starting this new exercise, I have a one important tip for you — Start on a treadmill.

Yes, I did say treadmill, the contraption that many seasoned runners shun and even despise (“dreadmill”). However, this machine offers a few advantages for a beginner:

Pace Control – You have exact control over how fast you run, and for a start, you should run at a pace where you can still hold a normal conversation. If you’re putting too much effort trying to catch your breath, you’re going too fast and you can just slow it down easily and quickly.

Stats – Distance and time are important indicators of progress, and some machines even come with a heart rate monitor. Having the stats of your run will help you plan your weekly increments. My first run was around 5.5km/h for 30 minutes, and we increased this by 0.5km/h every week.

Less Distractions – On the treadmill, there are no cars or people to avoid and no awkward jogging-on-the-spot-at-the-red-light. You just plug in your music, set your pace and go. In that time, you can zone out or think about the rest of your day and not worry about being run over. You can also eliminate any weather effects from your run.

Access to a Shower – This was one of the most important reason for me. Assuming your treadmill is in the gym, having a shower after a run is paramount if you have somewhere else to go after. This means you’re a lot more flexible, and could probably squeeze in a run before going to work in the mornings.

There are many theories on how to build a new habit but eliminating any possible excuses was a good way to start for me. A treadmill offers the consistency, control and predictability that is so helpful for a new runner. After we’re more comfortable, then we can start pounding the pavement but that’s a post for another day!

Treadmill Running

Stronger

About three months ago, I embarked on a very personal project that I was hoping would change the way I lived. I was going to quit smoking, lose weight and get fitter and healthier.

It wasn’t easy, as you can imagine.

On 22 July, I took one last drag and called it quits. To deal with the severe nicotine withdrawals, I started meditating every morning.

To force myself to exercise, I signed up with a personal trainer at the gym and started an intense program of cardio work, weights and interval training up to six times a week.

I had to change what I ate everyday, going from salty, carb-heavy meals to clean, nutrient-rich food.

In three months, I’ve lost 11 kilograms and I’ve also grown stronger – not just physically, but mentally as well. A big part of this lifestyle change was pure willpower, determination and focus.

I’m feeling better in this body. I’m much more aware, present, fitter and happier. My attempt to change the way I live is off to a good start. There’s a lot more work to be done, and I’m going to spend more time writing and sharing the experience, and hope that it will benefit someone else out there who might want to do the same for themselves.

 

Stronger

Thoughts on Overheard 3

Overheard_3_poster

I managed to catch this at the preview screening last week. As the title (竊聽風雲) suggests, this movie revolves around high tech surveillance and monitoring, just like the previous two instalments. But despite the same mechanics, the premise of all three movies are worlds apart. I thought it’s quite novel that the film makers would everyone off, then reset the next movie with the same actors but with a different plot. So you don’t need to watch any of the previous movies to enjoy the next one.

The plot for this third instalment revolves around purchasing land in New Territories, Hong Kong. While it certainly rings a bell with locals, it might be a little too esoteric for audiences who are not too familiar with the history behind land ownership in that part of the world. After watching the previous two instalments, the narrative is now a little too predictable with frankly, unimaginative

The story felt like it had fillers thrown in to make up for what the movie lacked – a real sense of purpose. Is it about greed and the downfall of being greedy? The first two movies covered that. Is it about the dangers and perils of surveillance? Done that in the first two. Is it about friendship and betrayal? Guess what, we’ve done that in the first two. Instead, we are introduced to half-developed characters and half-baked side plots which further convolutes the plot.

That said, I have to give credit for the direction and cinematography, and the actors were mostly convincing in movie. I’m beginning to feel like Louis Koo (古天樂)is the Nicholas Cage of Hong Kong cinema for having the ability to play every role in his career with the same brooding frown. The standout for me was Zhou Xun (周迅) who is appearing in this franchise for the first time. Despite having a relatively minor role, she steals every scene she’s in with a subtle yet assertive elegance only someone with such talent can deliver. I think she’s one of contemporary Chinese cinema’s best actress and it’s a missed opportunity to relegate her to an inconsequential supporting character.

Overall, it’s not a bad movie by any standards but it felt a little too formulaic, repetitive and predictable. Watchable, but you might leave feeling a little underwhelmed when the credits roll.

Thoughts on Overheard 3

Movies I Watched This Week #4

This would be a 2-week update after being on the road for more than 10 days. I watched a lot of movies so this time around, I’ll skip the bad ones and just talk briefly about the better ones.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty – Finally managed to catch this movie and I really liked this. It’s rare to find a movie that is funny, yet uplifting at the same time. Ben Stiller did a great job with this adaptation. If you’re stuck in a bad rut in life (I’ve been there), or just looking for something to elevate your spirits, then this movie is perfect for you. It has a great soundtrack too.

The Great Hypnotist (催眠大师) – I liked this for how well it was written and despite some plot holes, it was a thoroughly enjoyable piece. Like a mystery novel, director Leste Chen takes the audience through the meandering narrative and mixes reality with flashbacks and dream sequences. The result is an engaging movie that will leave you guessing until the end. The big reveal at the end of the movie is worth waiting for.

The Lego Movie – I must admit that I was surprised at how enjoyable this is. It worked really well because it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s ridiculously fun and even adults will enjoy this and ultimately, like the toys itself, this movie is an ode to creativity in every one of us. It’s a throwback to what was so iconic in our childhood. Watch this.

Movies I Watched This Week #4

Movies I Watched This Week #3

I’m a little behind this week, but it’s better late than never. It’s been a so-so week of movies for me. There was one really good title and the rest were average. Once again, in order of my favourite to the least, here’s a quick rundown of what was playing on my screens.

On The Job – Inspired by a real scandal that shook the Philippines, this movie is one of the finest movie I’ve seen lately. There are 2 main story arcs: a backup hitman learning the ropes from a seasoned killer and an up-and-coming detective groomed by his corrupt father-in-law. Their stories run parallel but eventually converge, and that is just clever writing. The technical aspects are well-executed, particularly the cinematography and sound design. The cast is exceptional as well, especially Joel Torre as the older hitman. Overall, a fine piece of work from the director Erik Matti, and I’m looking forward to his next film. Watch this if you’re looking one of the finest modern crime thrillers from Asia.

Out of the Furnace – To be honest, this left me a little disappointed. Firstly the ensemble cast had outstanding performances. In fact, they were so good that I had expectations set for a spectacular finish, but the ending was a little flat. I think the film’s weak plot couldn’t hold up the weight of the cast. Watch this for the strong performances from the cast. I think Casey Affleck is improving as an actor and seems like he’s ready for his big leading role soon.

2 Guns – This turned out better than I had expected. The chemistry between Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg is believable and great to watch, and with a plot filled with double and triple-crosses, this action-comedy is very entertaining. If you’re a fan of bromance movies or simply looking for a brainless but enjoyable shoot-em-up over the weekend, then you can’t go wrong with this one.

The Art of the Steal – This movie is almost like Ocean’s Eleven meets Guy Ritchie, but without the pizazz from either. The plot is predictable and there were no standout characters or memorable performances. It ended up a little bland and forgettable for me. The use of the first-person narrative in the early parts of the film was interesting but it didn’t develop enough in the latter parts. It could have been a fantastic device for dramatic irony if Kurt Russell’s character starts letting you in on the final cross. Watchable but don’t expect to be blown away. This isn’t The Usual Suspects.

Wrath of Vajra – This movie didn’t quite work for me. It feels like they wanted to make a martial arts movie, so they choreographed a bunch of fight sequences then wrapped what looked like a story around it. There’s nothing wrong with that, a lot of martial arts movies had thin plots but at least they were unapologetic about it. Wrath of Vajra took itself a little too seriously. The acting was forgettable but the fighting sequences themselves were choreographed quite nicely, although I had issues with the quick edits. I just prefer fight sequences with an uninterrupted string of action. Lastly, the use of slow-motion shots (ala The Grandmaster), is a little too gratuitous for my liking. Watch for the fight scenes, forget everything else.

Movies I Watched This Week #3