Binignit: Holy Week Comfort Food

I’m still enjoying the third day of my long weekend. This time of the year, the majority of the Philippines commemorate the sacrifices and death of Jesus Christ which is why there’s Holy Thursday and Good Friday both of which are regular holidays. It’s time off for Catholics and the rest of the working class. No bosses, no cares about bad call flow except for those left behind to keep the production running or churning.

I really didn’t do much of the rituals expected during this holy week. Sorry mother but don’t worry I did my own sacrifices. Food were in small(er) portions and working out and running were skipped for two days. No fuel, no go. And yes, I made my own silent prayers. Erm.

The past two days were meatless. So over brown rice and steamed veggies, yesterday I had binignit. I discovered that what I’ve known for the longest time as ginataan is also called binignit. A match on my favorite app confirms my entry. For the nth time MyFitnessPal recognizes my kind of comfort food.

Wifey and my in-laws prepared the binignit like some sort of holy week tradition. I woke up seeing them busy chopping the ingredients right outside our house. They cooked everything in one big pan that was then shared among every household. We got a lot which I thought at first I won’t eat as it’s normally cooked too sweet for my taste but thankfully it wasn’t this time. The Under Armor app says one serving equals two hundred calories. Not bad.

MyFitnessPal is always heaven sent. Until a timely bad news struck. Several news on social media report this morning that the app got hacked. What else is safe way nowadays anyway? The reports say that personal information were exposed, not quite sure if credit card credentials are among them. I’m spared, however. For one I don’t subscribe to premium service and I don’t have a credit card anymore. What only hackers could see on my account are how much eggs, and bananas with Skippy, Nutella, and Speculoos in between I have eaten. Then for two meals already, the binignit.

***

I must be a hermit in my past life. I could stay indoors the whole time and won’t make a fuss about it. So that’s how I spent two extra days, just at home and played games with Marcus. Man, he’s already beating me on driving games.

Marcus taking a break from the hot sun and Forza 6 game.

***

Mood: 1/10 Honks! (Now away from home and Marcus’ XBox today.)

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Callused

The frequency of pull-ups I’ve been doing since I installed the Domyos pull-up bar has its downside. Yes, I now do various routines with it but all the gripping plus the weight my hands have to bear resulted to unsightly calluses.

It was something I despised at first. I was already considering workout gloves until I saw a post from Dan Kavadlo. (Duh!) His hands have far thicker calluses. I was too naive not to expect to see such with the way he does bodyweight workouts. His human flags for one are crazy.

Since then I wear my calluses with pride like my black toenails. I have to ensure though that it does not get any bigger and thicker as my wife and I take turns in giving Marcus a bath. He would always remind me to be gentle when I scrub him because he can feel my calluses and is annoyed by it. This is the reason my cube reeks of Burt’s Bees Hand Cream. Sorry about that folks.

My ugly hands.

***

As it turns out, running isn’t exactly a minimalist sports that we all thought it to be. The farther I run the more I agree with expert advice that it pays to switch to a different pair of shoes every other run.

And I’m a sucker, or let’s say I’ve been assimilated. So yesterday coming from a company event in Tagaytay, while fighting lack of sleep, I dropped by Paseo de Sta. Rosa to look for running sneakers.

I was in luck. The Nike Store has an open box item and although it’s not really a stability shoes I got it anyway. Half the price markdown was convincing enough. Can’t wait to test it soon. Crossing my fingers that my toes don’t get calluses.

This should make me more visible to bad drivers.

***

Mood: 1/10 Honks! (Short work week!!)

Decathlon: Sports Supplies Heaven

Getting sports supplies is now a lot easier and better than before. I now have access to whatever I need to support my efforts to stay active and fit, thanks to Decathlon store located inside Festival Mall Alabang. This place is sports heaven for adults as Toy Kingdom or Toys ‘R Us is to kids.

We dropped by yesterday to check out running stuffs on my list and once again Decathlon didn’t disappoint. I got my two-bottle belt (Php800), race bib number belt (Php250), and smartphone armband (Php450). I can now take selfies during my runs. Just kidding. Online stores like Lazada sell similar items, could be even cheaper, but being in a physical store allows me to check the quality and fit so I prefer doing it if I have the time.

Running and cross- training stuffs from Decathlon.

On non-running days, normally weekdays, I do daily cross-training at home before I go to work. Weeks ago I started progression on handstand and I can now do it facing the wall. Then I discovered I could perform the human flag progression without a straight pole–though I might have one fabricated in the guise of the kittens’ scratching post and trail. I also found a way to start front levers. Hint: pull-up prep (using Domyos pull-up bar from Decathlon which I bought November last year).

I find facing the wall trickier than back against the wall.

To improve cross-training I also added one small but helpful item in my shopping list–50-kg band. I already tested it today and it made me achieve pull-ups drop sets. A worthy purchase for only Php480.

My workout supplies hanger is getting crowded.

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Marcus also loves Decathlon even if he can’t walk. (I just feel guilty seeing him watch kids use the trampoline and test the bikes.) He likes wearing and trying out items on display. Yesterday he donned the boxing headgear and gloves. Then he asked me to demo the parallel bars and pull-up rack. He also played goalie while I kick the football to him. I hope he keeps the positive attitude.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Didn’t run but an hour bodyweight training burned yesterday’s cheeseburger.)

Let’s Bring in the Bomb

The close quarter battle is ongoing. The enemy stays tough and puts up a good fight. So far weapons I’ve used weren’t effective. The hardwares barely able to deliver.

I’ve deployed the Bangalore to breach the barriers but looks like it only works in Saving Private Ryan. Sometimes it pushes the enemy back but these guys are just hardened villains. They hardly budge. It takes time to flush them out. Yesterday was one of those days.

Time to change tactics. Time to bring in the bombs. Drop everything and rig the stuff was today’s priority. The ingredients were mixed carefully and are now set to be tested. I can’t wait to send these brown armies to the bottom of the earth. These bad guys are in for a big surprise. I hope.

I have high expectations on these baking soda toilet bombs.

***

Mood: 1/10 Honks! (Kiddo needs way more fiber.)

MyFitnessPal: Weight Loss Is Now Fun And Easier

There was once a time when losing weight was quite a struggle. There’s the gym but it requires membership. There’s your friendly liposuction clinic but obviously it’s invasive not to mention expensive. There are also self-help books on counting calories but these have limited recipes and rarely include nutritional info while some of it have ingredients that aren’t available locally. Where do you get kale, collard, cottage cheese, or quinoa? Go figure.

Fast forward to the era when almost everyone has mobile phones and almost everything starts to have its own app. Modern technology now makes losing weight interesting and fun. Weight watchers nowadays have more control, timely feedback, and could take actions fast like passing off on a slice of shortcake because calorie goal has been reached. Freeze it and tomorrow’s another day.

Seven months ago I was looking for a solution to my weight loss plateau. It’s the dreaded point of anyone trying to lose (or even gain) weight. Common knowledge dictates eat less, exercise more but it is easier said than done. Often times this hit or miss leads to under nourishment, sickness, and eventually, failure. I’ve seen people going back to square one and never attempting to cut weight ever again due to disappointment and/or lack of motivation.

This is where the apps come in. There are several apps that help count calories but I use Under Armor’s MyFitnessPal which is among the popular ones, if not the most, under its category. Since I started using it in August I have never turned back, never skipped a day without entry of my meals. The results gradually followed and goal finally reached. Thanks to data-driven weight loss.

MyFitnessPal allows its users to customize their own weight loss plan. Goal could be as aggressive as a 2-lb loss per week or just take it easy at .5 lb per week.

Personalized diet plan.

The app’s weight goal factors in the user’s activity level from Not Very Active to Very Active. Mine should be the former but since I have the leisure to take short breaks when my Garmin says Move! I set mine on Lightly Active. I normally achieve 10 stairs level (up) and 5,000 steps daily.

Activity level menu.

Of course, counting calories means food consumed versus daily calorie goal. This is where MyFitnessPal’s huge food database becomes an advantage. You may now start throwing away those diet self-help books you bought from the thrift shop. If you’re Filipino or Asian or anyone but American most likely those paper books do not include local dishes. So far everything I ate are on MyFitnessPal: sinigang, tulingan, sisig, tuna pasta, pizza, adobo, kamoteng kahoy, kangkong, balut, bulalo, sweet potatoes, bananas, eggs, etc. Whether it’s English or Tagalog food name, this app would have a match for it.

Use the app’s barcode reader if food label has a barcode. Trust me you’ll love this feature.
App shows calorie per food based on servings and it totals everything per meal. Here’s my 600-calorie breakfast.

After all meal entries are in, the app predicts possible weight result. When I started months ago I smirked when it said I would be 145 lbs. Well, it happened, breached it even further and I never doubted the app since then.

The number always motivates.

Interestingly, sooner or later calories wouldn’t be the only thing that matters. Anyone who gets more serious about diet and nutrition would be asking about nutrient details like sodium, cholesterol, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and trans. Then there’s also the question if where the calories are coming from. Does it come mainly from carbs, fats, or protein? MyFitnessPal got these covered.

Macro shows our diet needs to include fat. Keto guys rejoice!
Want more details, MyFitnessPal has this Nutrients tab for you.

There’s a big caveat to all this. MyFitnessPal computes based on accuracy of the user’s entry so honesty is a big factor here. User details like height, initial weight, activity levels must be all correct. Needless to say, if it’s two slices of apple pie you ate it must be two apple slices that should be entered or else weight predictions would remain a number and not a reality. And your bathroom scale would surely know.

There are also basic tools I use to complement the app. I have a cheap digital kitchen scale my wife got online and on most days I wear a Garmin Vivoactive HR watch that records calories consumed based on my physical activities such as running, walking, intervals, stairs climbed, etc.

The Garmin smart watch pairs with MyFitnessPal app and calorie goals are adjusted accordingly. I found some discrepancies though on how MyFitnessPal adjusts so I would ignore the big numbers whenever I see them.

Garmin Connect app shows a more accurate ‘calorie left’ number.
Better ignore the adjusted 1000 calories unless you workout like Dwayne Johnson.

MyFitnessPal is free but it has a premium package if you want to be more detailed about your diet. Free works for me for now.

***

Revision: I won’t sleep tight if I don’t include the barcode reader screenshot and change the boring title.

***

Mood: 1/10 Honks! (Cold uphill run to Makiling.)

Cut Down

The bathroom weighing scale finally shows the magic numbers: one, three, zero. Months after I started counting calories seriously I have reached my ultimate goal. It was a test of will, patience, and discipline and I did it breaking stereotypes about genes, age, and being endomorph. I have never been this light and fit. Take note: Never been in my entire life.

Measure and control play a big part in all this. Again, “whatever is measurable is controllable” proves itself true. A concept that I first read in school textbook, often heard at work, and now put to good use in achieving weight loss. It started with just wanting to shed off Christmas weight. Then getting out of the dreaded weight loss plateau. Then entertaining the thought of hitting the ideal BMI. Before I know it I was staring down at a scale that says I am already 30 lbs lighter seven months later.

The MyFitnessPal app made it happen.

It’s not really a big number but I am now following a new lifestyle–not cliche New Year’s resolution–which I would continue to embrace. Achieving a 130-lb weight is just the start. My current regimen could result to increased muscle mass so whether I maintain my new weight or not is no longer important. For now, I see lighter runs ahead and probably new PRs.

***

There is so much discussion about coffee. Some days a villain, some days a hero. Whatever, it’s fuel for me. But it’s expensive regardless if it’s Starbucks or home-brewed which is why I will start using a coffee press instead of a drip coffee machine that runs on electricity. I had my first brew last Friday and I like it.

Got this for 795 pesos from Starbucks.

***

Mood: 1/10 Honks! (Ah, yes coffee is diuretic. Reason I’m up for a very early morning snack and a Ghost Wars episode.)

First 16K

Can I run farther? I asked myself immediately after I crossed the finish line of the Run 7-11 10K category a month ago. I wasn’t all spent while slowing down towards the staging area so I think I could. Since then I set my mind to try 16K.

Next weekends, however, I was grasping for motivation. Why should I? What for? I seem unable to justify why I would torment myself running farther when 10K seems to be good enough for regular runs. And the funny thing is, in the past weeks I didn’t even do 10K anymore. I also did 5Ks just because my workout plan that’s stuck on our refrigerator says I need to. Telltale signs of boredom.

My Garmin capturing the spike of elation?

Thanks to running and fitness pages I follow on Facebook, I got back on track. Surround yourself with like minded people they say. People who had the same challenges, same people who despite challenges have beaten the odds. So this morning I pulled myself out of Netflix’s Ghost Wars. I ran while it’s still dark.

The plan was to cover 12 kilometers only. It’s the distance set based on my newly discovered pre-run meal: .5 multiplied by bodyweight multiplied by number of hours left before run. I read it yesterday, not the whole article but I was eager to give it a try. It says it should be good for an hour’s run.

Experts say that pace is key to avoid early burnout on long runs. I tried slowing down but every time I check my Garmin it shows my 5K pace which is a bad sign if running economy is considered. I was planning my turnaround point at the 6K mark but my legs still seem up for two more kilometers.

An hour and a half later I was on my home stretch. Sun’s already up, school kids already being dropped off, and the Monday chaos starts to set in. Before my watch hits the second hour I finished my run. Not fast but I did it. My 16K baseline has been set.

Sweet potatoes for recovery.

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (God is good.)