Restless

Being Asian meant I have to uphold the Asian values:
1. Do well in school
2. Find a reputable profession
3. Become wealthier than parents
4. Get married

Lately, I find myself asking the same questions over and over again; do I really want to live a checklist life?

When I was younger, I admit, there was always an air of loneliness that loomed over my head. I didn’t quite understand it at the time, but now I do.

It wasn’t loneliness that I felt, it was insecurity. That feeling of uncertainty and the need to be with someone, like an anchor stopping a ship from drifting off into the sea.

I was alone in Hong Kong, with no friends or family. When you’re scared and alone, you desperately want someone to lean on.

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I remember looking up the statistics on the ratio between women to men. The population of women to men was 2:1. That scared me and it still scares me.

But what scares me more is the loss of my freedom.

While it is amazing to have a partner to lean on, I value my freedom more.

Yes, it is great to have someone to go on adventures with.
Yes, it is great to have someone to talk to.
Yes, it is great to have someone you can spend your weekends with.

But at what cost?

The older I get, the less afraid I am of dealing with everything alone.
The older I get, the more I value my alone time.
The older I get, the less patience I have for servitude.

Growing up, my family was unique. Rather than placing importance on face time, the importance was placed on support. Even though we see each other once or twice a year, for a duration of 24-48 hours max., the support is there. You never feel alone.

In Hong Kong, it is the contrary. The importance is placed on face time.

Because my family is not in Hong Kong, I am at a disadvantage because more often than not, I am forced to conform to other peoples’ standards.

 
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The same patterns of people exist here and I realized none of those patterns fit me.

And yet, in the 3 years I have been here, I have not met anyone who can understand my values.

If that is the case, why should I continue to conform?

My life is not lived to serve anybody else.
My life is lived to become a better me.

-b.

Cloud Atlas

Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past and present. And by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future. Sonmi-451:Cloud Atlas

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Last night, I took a friend to a speakeasy, a getaway of sorts.

Not many people know about my past, and those who do, only know tidbits.

It’s not the immediate past I am concerned about.

Every person has their own belief system. Some call it religion, others call it a soul.

Do you believe in karma?

I do.

The first time I watched Cloud Atlas, I was fascinated with the storyline, how, through the actions of the characters, the decisions they made in every lifetime, shaped their next life.

To me, it was a masterpiece. Critics dubbed it an impossible to film book. But they did it anyways. Some criticized the film as “yellow-facing”, making Caucasians look Asian so they don’t have to hire Asians. But what they missed was that, the characters spanned through ages, genders and race. What they missed was that the Asian actresses were also made to look like other races in the different timelines.

Karma does not discriminate.

There are moments of redemption, just as there are moments of deterioration.

And that’s what the book and film tries to illustrate.

We move through our lifetimes. Each time, we are dealt a different hand. How we choose to live our lives determines the next hand. And with every hand, do we choose to be a better self or do we choose to live a life of pure consumption and excess?

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People ask me why certain things only seem to happen to me or why I seem to attract an alarming amount of bad luck.

I joke, saying in my past life, I must’ve done some pretty bad deeds.

On the other hand, I would love to know who or what I was in a previous life.

-b.

Steampunk

Growing up, I loved Steampunk because it was a fantasy of living both in the past and in the future.

I was lucky enough to have a close relationship to my maternal grandfather who shared with me the stories of his youth and his time in the service during World War II. And that led me to have a healthy appetite for history.

I remember the first time I went to Disneyland in Orlando, Florida, being in awe of Tomorrowland and Main Street USA, bringing back some retro elements from the 1950s.

There was always a sense of adventure.

I guess that’s why I keep re-watching cult classics like:

20,000 Leagues under the Sea
Cloud Atlas
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
The Mummy I and II
Sky Captain and the Land of Tomorrow
Suckerpunch

And yes, I do imagine what life would be like if we actually did live in a steampunk world, it seems pretty awesome.

I’m also lucky enough to be in Hong Kong, where we have both Ocean Park and Disneyland, two large theme parks.

My favourite is (hands-down) Disneyland even though it is much smaller with more vanilla rides. It is due to the ambience and their strict attention to detail on the most minute things. When you’re in Disney, you do feel like you’re transported to another world.

Over the weekend, I decided to hit up their newest hotel, Explorer’s Lodge. At first, I tried to pinpoint the era, but it had both elements of the late 1890s and 1950s. It reminds me of the opening scene of UP, when Carl and Ellie talk about Paradise Falls when they were kids. It’s also an extension of the Mystic Manor ride in Mystic Point, a dark ride in the park.

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-b.

Weight Management with IBS

From as long as I remember, I always had trouble with my weight. I was never “Asian Skinny” growing up.

The heaviest I’ve been growing up in Toronto was 57kg. At 166cm, that was not a heavy weight, however, I did get people telling me I was “chunky”.

I started my weight loss journey in January 2010. determined to lose 7kg. I started with eating 1400kcal a day, predominantly made up of vegetables, fruit, lean protein and rice. On top of the new diet, I added 45min – 1 hour of cardio a day. Within 3 months, I ended up losing 14kg! That put me way underweight in the BMI realm.

That’s when I started HIIT and weight training so that I could build lean muscle mass and get closer to a healthier BMI. It took me a full year to add 4kg of lean muscle back.

Fast forward 4 years and I still maintained a weight of 47kg while maintaining a healthy diet, occasional snacking, cheat meals and regular exercise. That’s when I decided to move to Hong Kong.

Within 2 months of moving – I gained 13kg to a weight of 60kg, heavier than I had ever been in my life! That was me in August 2014 on the left, at my heaviest.

I remember feeling so ashamed of myself because despite what I did – I could not stop the weight gain. And this was me after eating salad with no dressing, zero carbs and exercising 1.5 hours daily.

Since I came to Hong Kong, I was in and out of hospitals due to severe stomach and skin infections. My home, at the time, had a black mould infestation and I was trying to battle it with bleach.

And that was when I got diagnosed with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). It helped explain the constant stomach cramps, bloating and water retention. We tried elimination diets, first by taking out dairy, then gluten, then meat, and finally vegetables. The symptoms did not improve. Every time I ate, I had extreme bloating.

So for the next two years, I lived with looking 6 months pregnant, daily weight fluctuations of 4kg, bloating and loose skin.

It took me one year to get to 54kg. It was difficult because I stopped all social activity because I had to run 10km a day to sweat off the “excess water weight” I would gain from water retention. That was me then in the right side.

It wasn’t until last month when I went to a Traditional Chinese Doctor that things started making more sense to me.

We started by eliminating “cool” foods from my diet because my digestion system was too “cold” and “wet”. That included the majority of fruits and raw vegetables. I started eating more “warming” foods like black beans, red dates and meat. It helped my bloating and it did decrease the fluctuations in weight to 2kg.

But it wasn’t enough.

Last week, I started an experiment. Contrary to what doctors and mothers say, I decided to stop forcing myself to eat at regular intervals – breakfast, lunch and dinner.

And that’s when the weight started dropping rapidly.

I ended up losing 3kg in 3 days.

Beyond that, there was no change in my diet, the calories I consumed nor did I increase my exercise.

When I forced myself to eat regular meals, my bloating got worse because the food was stuck in my small intestine and was rotting away instead of being digested. I tested this out by taking peppermint oil gels. Some days, it would take up to 16 hours for me to feel the effect of the oil, which was the minty feeling in your stomach. Some days, it would take me 2 hours. This meant, on some days, my digestion system was working, and on others, it wasn’t.

That’s when I started only eating when I actually felt hungry.

On some days, this meant I ate every 2 hours. And on other days, it meant I could only eat 2 meals that day.

The good news is, I could feel when my IBS was most severe because on those mornings, I wake up with a slightly bloated stomach. And on those days, I stick to eating rice, bananas and lean beef and eggs because those are “safe” foods for me. I would still bloat after eating those foods but the bloating goes away faster. I also try and eliminate salt and sugar on those days.

I normally eat until 50% full. The other 50% was covered by the bloating.

I am hoping this is a permanent solution to managing my IBS.

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My stomach on Friday was completely flat 6 hours after lunch. I stuck to scallops, shrimp, miso soup and white rice. I also didn’t like the way the dress looked so I folded it down like a maxi dress. I am 51kg in the photo.

-b.

Sunday Workout

Exercise plays a huge part in my life – it helps me sleep better, uses up my excess energy and it helps to de-stress.

On weekends, I normally go swimming because it is a great full body workout and you feel refreshed during AND after your workout. It is also good for those with bad knees, joints or small muscle/ligament injuries because it is a low impact exercise. This means there is less pressure and sprain put on your body. 

In December, I tore the right ligament in my ankle and in March, I fractured my toe in my left foot. This means I can’t do HIIT or run anytime soon. 

The weekly swim sessions has definitely helped with the rehab and burning off calories. 

I normally do backstroke and some freestyle. 

Soon to come: my weekly exercise routine. 

-b.

Driven

After moving to Hong Kong, I quickly realized how different my viewpoints and opinions were, comparative to the local populace.

The most evident being family and upbringing.

My parents gave up everything in Shanghai to move to Hong Kong back in the day.
And then, they gave up everything they built in Hong Kong to move to Canada when I was born.

To start from zero twice; it’s not easy. They faced language barriers and discrimination, but they endured. For the goal of building a better life.

This meant, they had no time to raise us.

Growing up, my parents were very transparent on our situation and I am always thankful that they were. Rather than trying to shield us and raising us with a silver spoon, they made it a point to inform us we could not have what our peers had. When I was 4 years old, I already knew the world was unfair and we had to do something about it.

To that degree, my parents, my siblings and I have built our relationship on the foundation of improvement. We may see each other once or twice a year, but during those times, we truly value our time together.

When I look at family interactions here – they are highly emotional, the gatherings  frequent and routines micromanaged.

It confuses me.

I did not even tell my parents I was moving to Hong Kong. My mother only found out when she dropped me off at the airport. And when I told her my plan, she threw a box of Ferrero Rocher at my head.

When I first got to Hong Kong, I had very little money, I ate one meal a day and I slept on the floor without a mattress. But I was driven. I remember lining up 3-5 interviews a day for the two weeks I was here, determined to land a job in that timeframe.

Three years later and I can finally accommodate my family when they visit, in a proper bed and a proper home.

img_5224A home is where you can go to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. A place of relaxation, a safe zone. This is mine.
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Good night.

-b.

And we are back

It’s been a long time since I last wrote a blog.

I keep starting new ones, deleting them and forgetting about them for months.

Not sure if anyone remembers Xanga, but back in the day, I used to have hundreds of followers on my blog that was dedicated to weight loss. In the beginning, it was great…until it wasn’t. I started seeing my photos used by “thinspo” sites and then I started seeing girls starve themselves.

That’s when I deleted my entire blog – 5 years of sharing with the world my life, gone in an instant.

So why am I back?

To be honest, I’m not sure.

Ever since I moved to Hong Kong, I have felt out of place. So I guess, this is where I can vent and make sense of things.

-b.