Life’s sweeter without the added sugar

About a month ago,I decided to give up eating sugar (sucrose) for the next month. My decision was influenced by a video I watched on Youtube. Not the greatest place be influenced from, but I was, and so I set forth on this challenge – No Sugar for a month.

By no sugar, I meant I wouldn’t be eating table sugar or any product that had additive sugar. I also wanted to do this challenge because for the past year or so, I have really focused on running and fitness overall. And one of the fitness mantra (after having done the workouts) is “NO SUGAR”. Cutting off sugar means cutting off a lot of unnecessary calories and replacing them with much needed calories required by the body(at least this is what I think).

The first two weeks were relatively easy. I sometimes had the urge to eat chocolate (of which i am a big fan), burgers,carbonated drinks and other sugar laden edibles, but I refrained. I stayed true to my words for the first two weeks without much discomfort.

And then, on the third week, as I woke up one Monday morning, I had a bloated stomach. Not having sugar was supposed to make me lose weight, help me get those shredded abs but it had just done the reverse. My tummy was bulging out(so it felt), and I was feeling lost. The following days got even worse – my digestive system was all out of sorts. Those awful burps and gaseous tummy made my third week tough. I did not know what caused this and then it struck me “Does that have something to do with me not eating sugar?” And so I googled. And presto! There it was – “Sugar Withdrawal Symptoms”. This self-diagnosis made me feel a bit better, and after having talked to my friends and loved ones, I was sure that my change in diet was the reason behind my digestive system disarray. I wondered if i took sugar would the queasiness go away, but i did not want to. I did not want to falter after having gotten this far, and with only one week to go did not want to eat sugar.

And, I did not – I went four weeks without eating sugar. The sickness has disappeared and I feel fit and healthy. I have started running again after my mini-illness had prevented me from running for three days. I won’t lie: I can see the abs getting a better shape.

Above all, I have started eating a lot of fruits. In my attempt to stop eating sugar I have turned my attention to fruits that provide me with necessary sugar and a lot more. I have stopped eating a lot of sugar laden food – meaning i have cut back on a lot of junk food (if not all). And I intend to maintain this diet – No sugar.

It thus, would be fair to conclude “Life is sweeter without the added sugar”

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Have i been running?

Most definitely – have i been writing? Not much as i would liked to have. But here i am after what seems like forever scribbling my mind.

I have been running in the mean time though i have not been updating it any more on the blogs. Running had been hindered by injuries to my leg and i have been taking it slow since then. I have not been running significant miles but i have been moving and that’s what is important. Hopefully i will be able to rack up more miles going forward but right now i am not really complaining. As cliched as it is – Something is better than nothing.

On the other hand i know for a fact that i have not been scribbling as much as i want to. And i would surely want to make up for that and once be more regular in updating the blog.

 

 

 

Offline

It had really been coming- the smartphone (if you can call it that) had been asking for it. It had been constantly distracting me and keeping me uselessly occupied for hours.Those sudden beeping noise that alerted me to various social network,email and text notifications were distracting me from the task in hand. I am not having a go  at the notification that i received or the sender- it is just i was getting sucked into the distraction and the smartphone wasn’t helping my cause. And i had to put a end to all of this and try and find a way around concentrating on the stuffs that i really wanted to do.

The smartphone I’ll have to be honest is an wonderful aide to me and it does make things so much simpler at work and in personal life. But occasionally the overuse kinda complicates matters for worse and i think that’s exactly what’s happened to me in this case. So, when i saw this post on Instagram that encouraged shoving the phone inside the drawer for the weekend (Just the Saturday) – i said why not? And i did just that.

At around 9pm on a  Friday night – i took my phone and placed it inside my closet. As so often is the case when trying quit doing something habitual – i did have urge the urge to go back check my notification. But i stayed firm and did not fall for this on Friday. But i knew the real test would come the next day as i would have to endure an entire day without looking at my device and not checking my email or social networking sites. I also had had list planned out for the day – stuffs i wanted to get done without getting distracted.

Twenty four hours after i had put my phone inside my closet i took it out – it was Saturday ,  9 PM. I had actually gone an entire day without looking at the phone – plus i had gotten a lot of things done. I had almost finished the book i started on Friday night -” The last lecture” and i had worked on a couple of things more. ( Details of which i will write about if i continue to do them).

Here i am on a Sunday afternoon just writing about my experience – to be honest i did not have that strong a urge to check my notification. And i have my phone on me right now and it helps me  with a lot of tasks but on Friday and the Saturdays it is going back in my closet.

 

 

 

Batman V Superman (Spoiler alert – maybe)

I had been eagerly waiting for this movie like so many out there. And when it did hit the theaters in Kathmandu on 25th of March, 2016 – I rushed to get my hands on the tickets and got it.As, I got to my seat I just knew what I wanted from this movie. I was seated here- firstly to witness an epic battle between the two Goliath of superhero characters, then to see action sequence that would be too tough to comprehend but it would just look so awesome and anything other than the two would be a bonus (i.e story included).

And I was not disappointed not one bit – well may be just a tiny bit. The action sequences were random and too difficult to follow and understand what was happening. But it did not matter – not to me. I was on the edge of my seat watching the trio Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman take on the colossus villain – Doomsday.

And of course then there was the battle between the two superheroes themselves. Batman and Superman battling it out in a hand to hand combat. I actually felt sorry for Superman as he was getting battered and bruised by the bat. I felt this was an epic battle which could have lasted a little a longer. (I am just being greedy) The only disappointment from the movie was that I expected Superman to fight with Batman when they first met. I was super pumped up and ready for it but instead Superman goes on to say “ I give you mercy”. I am like “Seriously?”. Other than that I enjoyed the movie- every bit of it.

 

Though the movie lasted a bit more than two hours and I could see my friends struggling to get to the end – I am sure they enjoyed the Bat and Superman battle it out there. All in all – pretty satisfied.

What is it about running?

What is it about running that makes me want to get out there and run my heart out – and then when I exhaust, I still feel mightily pleased about the entire session? Why is it when I don’t run I get cranky and anxious? Why is it when I injured and people tell me rather stop running it kinda feels horrible to just think that?

This new found love for running which has lasted for almost six months now and looks like it can only grow has engulfed me. I can’t explain the phenomenon of that what takes place when I run – the sheer joy and the excitement. Every time when I take those strides , every mile I cover and every minute that I run when they add up to something bigger it makes me want to jump and punch the air in delight.

Much of last two weeks I have not been able to run due to the injury that I picked up. I planned to run for last week but since the injury had not healed I could not run as planned. As a matter of fact the start of the previous week I was still struggling to walk. However, by mid-week I felt a lot better. The pain went away and I think it is safe to say my forced rest actually paid off. And I am looking to run once again. Also, this past week I have realized that having this injury kind of played on my head as well. I can say so because just the other day I was trying to put a post together (similar to this one) but I could hardly articulate the words everything felt so forced that I actually went from being in a moderately good mood to an awful mood in a jiffy. And I had to stop writing altogether. As, I sat down to write this today I feel that this particular post has come unforced and just the way I’d have wanted it to. I would surely say this has partly to do with the fact that I will be running soon (most likely tomorrow). Also, I did do a short stint this evening covering around 2 miles and that just opened everything up again.

All of these evidence which shows that how running lightens up my mood , how it just makes me feel a lot better , energetic and healthy could be the reason why I will continue to run as long as I can. But having said that – I still cannot really put my finger on that one reason so what I love to run so much.

The number that never ran

I was really super hyper excited for the event that was scheduled for the 19th of February -the half marathon. It would  be my first official crack at long distance running and i was really looking forward to the event. I was building up for this – constantly talking about the event and i could not have been more ready for it, mentally.

As the day for the event came closer the excitement grew and in anticipation for the event i started fearing if i could actually complete the 21 kms. But nothing was going to stop me from running , at least i thought so.

Friday, came and i was up early and pumped up for tomorrow’s marathon. Today was going to be all about researching on how to give myself the best chance to compete and complete and also it was about getting hydrated. And then all of all sudden in my head i went ” What date is it today?” As i hurried to check on the date , i saw to my horror it was the 19th. I had miscalculated – and now here i was late for my first marathon.

Nothing had prepared me for this misfortune and i was absolutely livid and aghast. All along i had thought the 19th of February was a Saturday and hadn’t even bothered to look it up in a calendar. And my stupidity had cost me the chance to run in my first long distance run. It was heart breaking to begin with and i was gutted. There was nothing i could do now – i had to report to the starting line by 6:45 am and i had noticed my grave error only at around 7 am. So, my number was missing from the starting grid.

As, heart wrenching as it was – i found it funny as well. I mean i had been a complete idiot to not look it up on a calendar. And so i laughed at myself and so did my mom when she said ” Khuchhing paryo” – my sister joined in. Not that my mom wanted to make fun of me for missing the event but it was just funny the way i had missed it due to my negligence.

At the end of it all i think something good came of my this experience – the first and the more obvious  always verify the date on a calendar (don’t be a freaking over-smart jackass). The other and this i figured on close observation ” maybe i wasn’t ready and it was universes way of telling me this.” Maybe if i had run things would be not gone as i expected them too. It gives me to opportunity to keep on practicing and doing my own 21kms before i participate in an event. At the end of it all “All’s well that ends well”. And i go again until the next marathon i keep on pushing myself.

Thank you for -Not SMOKING

Just a couple of days more and I will have officially gone six months without smoking. For me it is quiet an achievement, after having smoked for over a decade and countless failed attempts to quit- These six months is a great positive to take. I also think it is fair for me to say that at this point I have by far exceeded my own expectation by a country mile and now I feel in the hindsight it really was not that all difficult. And I wonder why I had failed so many times.

Disastrous Way to Quit Smoking

 But I do know that- it has not been so easy especially to begin with. Early July, at the very beginning it was an easy decision – “ I am going to quit smoking” I had said. But keeping up with those words would be a challenge and I knew that. When I did not smoke for the next week I thought I was doing it. But the next four days I was back to smoking. I was not smoking a lot but even one in three days meant I was still smoking. In the first ten days after I said I was done smoking I had smoked four. On a larger scale that still was an insignificant number and I could have told myself –“ Four, in ten days is not bad. Previously I have done ten in a day. So progress.” But instead this other thought came over my head and I felt I was not doing justice to my words. And then on, ten days later after having said I was not going to smoke but had, I decided THIS WAS IT. I was livid with myself for not staying true to my words. And when I purchased that fifth cigarette- the purpose was not to smoke but to crush it into pieces and throw it away. And that is exactly what I did. A bit dramatic but I did it anyway. And ever since the day I crushed that cigarette, I have been able to crush the urge, the desire and the need to smoke. And I can say“ It feels absolutely amazing.”

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My lungs would probably be the first one to admit how great it feels. Now, that I have a strict running schedule my lungs need to be healthy and with no first hand smoke intake my lungs would say that “ Thank you for not smoking.” There are so many advantages to not smoking and I think smokers are well aware of that. I was well aware of the disadvantage of smoking but I smoked nevertheless, back then. Often I would argue when someone said “Smoking kills”. I would say just for the heck of it “ What doesn’t?” But now I think it is more about being able to live so much better when smoke free. And for me it has been an experiment I have conducted on myself. You read it everywhere the benefits of not smoking but you won’t know it unless you quit. I was willing to experiment & challenge myself and I can say the benefits show. For smokers I would like you to take up the experiment, take it up as a challenge and see it for yourself.

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As for me I can’t thank myself enough for having given up smoking. I did not do it for anyone but for myself alone. But I can also say though I did it for myself, I have been able to make people that care about me happy as well. And there isn’t a better feeling than being able to make your loved ones happy by your actions. I am pretty sure given how these six months have gone for me – there is no way I would want to go down the smokers lane again.

From running for life to running for life

On April 25th, 2015 on what looked like a normal Saturday- 7.8 Magnitude earthquake shook Nepal. I was on the top most part of the house where the water tanks were kept. And when the first tremor hit my initial response was to jump to a level below. Which I believe is no less than 8 to 10 feet. If you asked me to do it today – I would definitely hesitate and think twice. But on this day- I jumped and raced out to get mom and we scampered together to the nearest open ground. Small aftershocks followed throughout the day and into the night. The very next day another huge aftershock this was followed by even larger 7.3 Magnitude aftershock about a week later. The aftershocks kept me on my toes almost always. The impact of the earthquake was so mentally traumatizing that even if some stupid yelled out earthquake- I was ready to make a dash for it. I was basically running for life, too scared to get trampled upon, scared because I did not want to die- not now, not like this.

Nepal, a beautiful south Asian nation sandwiched between India and China. This is as close as it gets to defining Nepal in a sentence. And us Nepali’s have had this definition engraved in our minds since the first standard and for some even before. But when I say beautiful Nepal, I am really not exaggerating any of it. It really is a staggering beauty with its mountainous range, epic hills, bio-diversity paradise and so much more. It really is the case of “You have to be here to see and experience it.” But the beauty has a dark side to it. And Nepal is really one of the poorest nations in the world. There is so much to do, in so many fronts: Education, Gender issues, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene and the list goes on. Constant political turmoil and bickering has been one reason the country finds itself lagging behind and the earthquake has just added to the plight. According to a post from the Kathmandu Post – Money (2015-10-6) the growth rate has fallen down drastically ever since the earthquake – from 5 to 3.4%.
The land topography of Nepal does not do it much favor either especially in infrastructural development projects. So, roads have not yet been linked to a large portion of the nation. Which means people have to walk huge distance and in an arduous terrain. That I why I think it’s fair to say we Nepali’s are cut out for the tough task. Also i think we were born for endurance sports because we basically walk this terrain. And maybe that’s why i just had a spontaneous thought of running. It was by no means a conscious decision back then though. I just felt growing up in the city- I had lost my appetite to walk and run. And I was so caught up in the buzz of city that I had neglected the physical demands of the body. But in the hindsight maybe going back to the basics was the perfect way to finding a way upfront. And that’s exactly what I have done – gone back to walking, running and cycling. Physically I have never been fitter and mentally i feel i am a lot clear in the head and I don’t plan on stopping running anytime soon. If anything I am going to run more. I don’t know how this will add up in the future or how I will be able to contribute but for now it has been a question of self-investment. And more importantly I just have a gut feeling that it will all add up somewhere, sometime. I have just got to keep at it and keep moving. And this is how I started running for life literally.
(My daily running journal since the day I started http://www.immarunthemarathon.blogspot.com )

The world’s most delicious apple

It was the 26th of December-last Saturday and I was doing my weekend five miler for the third time. The week before that I had just completed my second five miles and the week before that the first.  In the first week I grew hungry when running and even more after completing 5 miles. I was still fair distance away from home and most importantly food. So, in the second week I decided to take an apple with me. I had done around two and half miles and I got hungry. So, I munched on the apple while running. Now, what I did back then was munch the entire apple very fast and as a result- I felt I might throw up. Luckily, I didn’t. But what I figured was that was no way to eat and run.

So, in the third attempt I carried an apple and started my run. Half-way through the run again I got a bit hungry. And so I munched on the apple. This time however, I just took two bites of it and shoved it back in my hoodie pocket and continued to run. As I ran further I took another two bites of the apple and into the pocket it went again. Soon I was done with my five miles and pretty pleased with my days effort. I was hungry and I had the apple with me. It was munching time.

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The most delicious apple (whatever was left) 26/12/2015

And then I tasted it- the most delicious apple in the entire world. I was tired after the run and hungry and this half-eaten apple was fruit divine. I was so into eating that apple – I was literally, in the middle of the road talking to the apple about how delicious it was. “You are one of the most delicious apples I have ever eaten. You are so delicious that if you ate yourself- you’d actually find yourself delicious. Pity! An apple as delicious as you has to be devoured but thank you” I said. Part of this conversation was inspired (Copied) from the apple conversation from the movie “Into the Wild”. But that conversation fit my situation perfectly so I used it – and I had not made any prior plans to actually to use it anyway.

That is the story of the most delicious apple ever eaten. Tomorrow is another Saturday, which means another five or more miles. But I have one more incentive to run now – I might just get to taste the most delicious apple again.

2015 – Hindsight 20/20

It’s almost the end of the year 2015, which as clichéd as it sounds feels like started just few days ago.  And here I am doing my year review – as a matter of fact my first ever. I don’t want to dwell too much into particular incidents or follow a monthly chronological order but instead will try and identify six key lessons that served me particularly well this year.

  1. It’s not the start or the end but the journey that matters

We’d all love to have a positive and a solid start and that would be the ideal scenario but this is not always possible. At the end of 2014, I had no idea I would have one of the most horrible start to 2015. But to be fair to 2015 it was not all its doing – I pretty much carried the baggage of 2014 into 2015. And the mayhem with which 2015 started was just compounded by the extra baggage I’d carried from 2014. As the early days of 2015 rolled on, before I’d known it months had passed. I was a miserable wreck on so many levels.  That feeling of stagnancy in life was at its peak and I felt I was a victim of life.

Then I snapped – in hindsight I can say for the better.  I think I reached the saturation point of stagnancy – what happened next was I said “I don’t want this for me.” The moment I said this wind sort of changed its course-maybe. But now towards end of this year with few days remaining that day late in June when I told myself I was done with stagnancy – it all changed for me. And i think it is fair to say that I am looking forward to carrying this momentum on to 2016 and start on the front foot. Will I be carrying any extra baggage with me? NOPE

  1. From Mind-full to Mindful

This was without a shadow of doubt the best decision I made and it continues to be one. With the start of 2015 the head was filled with loads of stuffs and constant overthinking made it worse. The worse got even more unbearable when I was constantly worrying about the things I could not influence. It was around this time I was feeling horribly down in life. Towards the end of June, one evening as I sat there probably with hands on my head – surfing the net, my mind full of unproductive ramblings, I just felt that I did not want this anymore. And then the very next moment my hands fell on this book “Mindfulness: How to find peace in this frantic world.” I did not know whether this book would work for me. But I did seek for that ever eluding “peace” and if this book was going to show me the way, I was more than willing to follow. What happened then on was surreal and i was on a journey from being mind full to being mindful.  And as the days turned to weeks, it was an easy call for me to make – the latter was way better than the former.

Soon, after I found Headspace app which really was a great way to practice mindfulness (meditation). And I am almost seven months into the practice and I love every bit of it. For everyone who thinks about mindfulness is about spiritual or religious practice- it’s not. It’s a practice where you basically more aware. And in order to be mindful one need not sit crossed legged or in some weird postures and with incense stick burning – those are just a myth. You can do it sitting on a chair or even lying down- it’s all about being in the present. Also, you need not spend hours on it, being mindful for ten minutes a day is enough.

  1. Reading is to mind what exercise is to body

Another one of my best decision this year – to start reading more. I have never been a voracious reader and I don’t consider myself one. But ever since I started reading a lot more than I previously had – everything seemed better. Not that I had solved all my problems, I hadn’t – all of them were right there but I just had better things to do now than to sit or lie down and overthink about things that were well out of my control. I would have my mindfulness sessions and the reading sessions would be long and endless every day. I did not have any particular genre of books as such and I read pretty much everything- Fiction, non-fiction, self-help, autobiography and even religious Scriptures. I was reading blogs, journals – I was reading and was in the thick of the excitement of reading.  Also, by the time I started reading I already had about a months’ practice of the mindfulness sessions and these sessions really contributed for me to be able to read and make a habit out of it. I say this with immense joy that I have actually been able to read much more in the course of five months than I have done in the previous five years (I am excluding academic books).  Reading also enabled my mind to ease off and I did not have much time to think about stuffs that really did not add much value to my life but instead just made me feel miserable. And with the reading habit came the writing habit and soon I was writing more. I intend to start a podcast or a V-blog to share my sentiments very soon- which again I think will be a product of me reading more.

  1. Smoking is injurious to health

When I first started smoking almost a decade ago I was well aware that smoking was injurious and it kills. But I wouldn’t often argue just for the heck of it – “what doesn’t?” I’d say. But a week after my encounter with the mindfulness book I was ready to give up smoking for the umpteenth time.   But this time I was equipped with a little bit more grit, determination and above all experience. The fact that I had failed on so many attempts previously to give up smoking was actually encouraging. Many a times failure drags us down and we tend to believe that I am not going to succeed because I’ve failed so many times. But this time was different I actually saw my failure as my experience and felt I was better equipped to deal with effects of quitting smoking. Here again my mindful practice came to my aid. When I felt like smoking I tried to get rid of the urge and told myself it was all in the head and it was more the mental battle rather than the physical. And a week turned into two, then three and here I am today almost six months smoke free. And the lungs feel great.

  1. Running for life

Months after I started my mindfulness session, I was reading, writing more frequently and had not smoked, it just occurred to me one afternoon early November – I am going to run the marathon. I had no idea where this thought came from but I just wanted to run. And so the very next morning I laced up my runners and took to the road. I was amazed how refreshing this was and given I had quit smoking for couple of months now I could really run so much better.  It was soon two weeks into my running program and I was pleasantly surprised to see myself loving to wake up early every morning, lace up and run. I had actually started running for life and not idiomatically but literally. I just loved it.  When I got injured two weeks later with a torn ligament and was bed ridden for the next two weeks I kept the flame burning and my desire to start running was immense. This led me to believe that I was going to run as long as I could.

 Initially when I had this thought that I wanted to run for some reason deep down inside I just wanted it to a long distance run. And both running and reading about long distance running has brought about new insight about life as a whole. It is amazing how life and long distance running (marathon) co-relate to one another.  I want to write more about the co-relation but not just yet, not until I have got a taste of running an actual marathon.

  1. Keeping the feet firmly on the ground

This by far is the lesson of the year- to keep the feet on the ground. When I started this year I was sinking slowly but surely. I was a train wreck and six feet under the ground from where I just could not see the light. But then everything changed for the better and right now I feel great about myself. And I know for a fact that with this amazing feel that I get at times it is easy to get carried away. So it becomes more important that put my feet on the ground. I am in love with this journey where it is so much about self-investment and I want to keep at it without getting carried away by the positives that comes my way. Or not beat myself in time of turmoil.

Finally, I believe now everything is a choice. It starts with multiple options but then one was to make a choice and stick to it.

(My 2015 has been a great learning curve and I can’t wait for the 2016. There’s so much to do, so many plans and but I understand that whatever the circumstance I am going to deal with it a lot better and enjoy it.)