Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Manduka Black Mat Pro: A beginners review

Almost a month ago I most certainly didn't have the slightest idea what in the world is a Manduka Black Mat Pro!  But since I started doing yoga and have had many bruises, joint pains and the daunting experience of sticking my face on our dusty floor, I decided for myself that I need a firm, sticky and durable cushion for practice once and for all. 

I am just the typical beginner who gets real excited about a new interest. I don't normally splurge right away because I might find myself starting another hobby in a few months time. 

But the more I have spent time stretching my limbs and reaching my toes on the floor (while hearing my body cry out for help to stop doing the unthinkable)- the more I felt a stronger connection to my mind, body and spirit that I want to explore what more I can do. 

Love at first sight, looks exactly as advertised. 



So when other people have asked me why I am willing to spend a hundred dollars on a yoga mat- I simply said its a good investment. Why? The Manduka Black Mat Pro has a lifetime warranty and according to owners it can last for years and years which I find practical as I cannot afford to buy a new yoga mat every 3 months. 

It is what is says it is

This is my first yoga mat and even if I cannot make a direct comparison from other models or brands, I can say that based on the yoga mats I have held when I was shopping for yoga mats, I can say that the quality of the Black Mat Pro is by far superb than those sold in the retail shops. It definitely has a league of its own. 

Almost the same width as the foot of my bed. 

I've been using it for a week and so far so good! I feel comfortable and secure. I have never seriously slipped because it is sticky enough. It doesn't move and has a good traction on the carpet when I jump from one corner to another. 

Of course no yoga mat is designed to be perfect! But perhaps the Manduka Black Mat Pro is as close as perfect can be. 


The smell

When I was reading the customer reviews about the Manduka Black Pro, the most complained aspect about it was the strong PVC- rubbery smell. Yes, this is true  especially on the first few days. 

Straight from the box, unwrapping it was the best feeling!

When I was working on the computer all day, all windows closed, the smell coming from the mat made me quite dizzy that I had to open the windows to escape from its empowering smell. 

But after a week the smell is not as strong as it was, that I can be with it in same room with little ventilation. Of course if I stick my nose on the mat I can smell the rubber but aside from that its very tolerable.


Its actually not as heavy as I thought it was. I can carry it around with ease it's just that I find it hard to find a normal bag that can contain it and to solve this problem I think I need to buy a customised carrying bag for it. I don't really mind about the weight because it's good for toning the arms. 

Black gives it a slick surface. Lays flat on the floor.

Final say: Stamp of approval! 

The pros outweigh the cons a million times so its really worth the pricey tag. 

You might find this quite over the top if you are just a beginner who doesn't really do the vigorous movements on a regular basis, but in the long run as your movements become intermediate you might need a sturdy mat for support in case you fall and a cushion to keep your knees or hands from maintaining a pose.  

If you are really serious about integrating yoga in your lifestyle then by all means save for a Manduka Black Mat Pro. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Illusion of Happily Ever After

 If I am living according to the way I planned it perhaps a few years from now I most certainly be walking down the aisle on a lush green garden on the side of a cliff, wearing a Monique Lhuillier custom made creation, with Mr. Funny-Hella Gorgeous-Smart-With-Abs-Groom waiting for me on the altar.

That sure sound pretty ambitious, and it really is! And now as I put my feet on the ground, I can feel reality speak through the roughness of the my bedroom carpet. Being grounded, its easier to realise that I am not a character in a fairy tale book where I can just sing by the well like Snow White or sleep in the woods like Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), in order to get LOVE's ultimate kiss and awake in forever bliss. 

The thought of happy endings or happily-ever-after, though shallow, made me bear life's problems easier to swallow.

Even if I know that happy endings are more of a metaphor- something that was made up for us grown ups to have an escape, and a creative way as well to protect children about life's uncertainty, I still need a dose of a happy ending or an it-will-all-work out-in-the-end mentality to make through a horrible day. 

Happy Ever After? 

.....If your life was a race, and reaching the finish line first guarantees you a million dollars, can you say that you can live happily-ever-after when you win? 

....If you just graduated from the university- can you slack off since you got honours anyway?

.....When you reach your ideal weight at the end of the year- can you celebrate by eating carelessly and not care on what happens the new year?

I like to think that happy endings, if you put it in a proper perspective, is not really a one-time-big time moment depicted in the movies where someone survives a bloody gun shot, gets married, wins a competition, catches the criminal, kills the villain and save the plane from crashing.

These dramatic moments in our lives defines a part of who we are but it does not entirely make who we are. Its the same reason for believing that when you get what you want: the car, the house, the job, the partner- life does not stop from there because you gotta pay the bills, mortgage, suck up to your boss and do your share of the house chores.   

Is it a destination?
Happiness is a state of mind. 

The switch is in your hands to either turn it on or off, but its not toying with your emotions and forcing yourself to be jolly right after being robbed, but rather seeing the whole picture, looking for something else to be grateful about like the fact that you are alive- which is way better than being penniless!  

Do not rely on the promise of a happy ending when you can be happy right now. 

When you treasure little joyful moments, like the way your dog excitedly greets you at home after a long day's work, you will earn a bucketful (thousands) of reasons that you can throw at yourself when you're having a bad day.

 If you set your bar of happiness so high and prep yourself to a mission impossible- that you will only be happy upon reaching perfection- I doubt that you will ever be truly happy. Happily-ever-after becomes true to those set achievable goals on a daily basis, those who find pleasure in small improvements and those who appreciate the freedom that life brings.

 If you always live in the moment and grateful that you can still open your eyes in the morning and know that you have another chance to correct yesterday's mistakes, then you can be rest assured of your own happily-ever-after. . .

Monday, March 14, 2011

Losing Weight.. Again!

I must.. I must.. 
I really must lose weight. And I decided that I really must do something about it after people started teasing me on facebook and right in front my face. I only happen to figure it out by myself (that I was getting thick) when I was trying on my favourite pair of jeans and I could no longer fit in them! 

Four years ago I have successfully lost weight because of vanity's sake. But now, I already have a real motivation to lose weight because it is affecting the quality of my life and happiness. I have gained around 12 lbs or 5 kilos in the course of just 2 years!

I am still not overweight but with some more pounds added I feel sluggish and less confident. This alarming realisation made me dissect on the kind of lifestyle that I have and found out I have become lazy as a cow and turned to food when I was lonely instead of being proactive.

Extreme measures leads to extreme consequences

In the past, I have tried a lot of diet tricks and tactics like exercising till I drop to the floor, drinking diet teas that painfully empties my stomach to surviving through a "no-white-stuff' or no-bad-carbs-diet. 

Unfortunately, I ended up feeling MORE miserable and starved. I felt that losing 6 lbs back then was not worth-it because I was not living the life that I wanted! Since my diet back then restricted me not to eat my favourite foods, like pasta and pastries, I became more cranky and moody. The carb restricted left me lifeless, and the only energy I had left is used for working out which leaves me lowbatt for more important things. 

A healthy diet must always include carbohydrates so you can have the energy to move around. Eradicating it totally will do more harm than good. Yes you may become thin quickly by not eating bread or rice but eventually you can become so fragile and weak- that with just a kick of a dog you can fall over easily. 

When I was into extreme dieting, I had my weak moments where I could not help but give in to the temptation of a chocolate cake or cookies & cream ice flavoured cream. And when I do so, I always feel guilty that I punish myself through a very vigorous workout- that I could no longer stand the next day!  I treated food as the enemy that I no longer enjoyed eating because at the back of my head all I hear is "stop it, you'll be fat!". 

But I realised that since food is primary need for survival, I should not deprive myself if I am hungry. If I love and respect myself I should take care of my body (a dwelling place of my soul) and give it what it needs and not what it always wants. Moderation is key and control must overcome cravings. 

The faster you lose weight, the faster it will come back

Who isn't a procrastinator?  If you are, then you might have tried crash dieting just because you have felt the pressure of getting in shape for an upcoming wedding in 2 weeks or for a summer vacation in the tropics. 

Quick fix solutions like getting into liquid diets will let you achieve short term goals, but sustaining that new weight becomes another problem because you know that you can't stay on a liquid diet forever. So when you decide to come back to your normal calorie intake, you will probably eat a lot more than normal because you were deprived for quite sometime and in effect you will gain back quickly what you have lost. Sometimes even a lot more.

Getting a lean and toned body is simply the result of hard work and commitment. Just the habit of learning to eat healthily and giving up an addiction to junk food takes a significant period of time to master. Taking things slow will make a better impact because once healthy eating and exercise becomes second nature to you, then you will be sexy without much effort. 

Aim for reaching an ideal weight- permanently! 

Of course we want the old Britney back but let's give her a break, realistically washboard abs may not ideal anymore since she already gave birth to two sons.  

Reaching an ideal weight is good but keeping it forever is the real challenge! Few years back my goal was to reach 100 pounds from 106 pounds. When I was able to finally reach it, I was so proud of myself because it came from hardcore discipline. But as years passed by and life got busy, I neglected taking care of my body. 

I ate whatever I wanted because I thought I can easily get rid of the fat I accumulated- if ever weight becomes a problem. I stopped exercising too, so all the muscles I built up a few years back went to waste.

Gaining 10-12 pounds really hit me hard! I figured out what was causing it and now all I want to do is get out of this vicious cycle of yo-yo dieting, which celebrities like Janet Jackson, Britney Spears and Oprah are infamous for.

Oprah just like us she also struggles with maintaining her weight permanently. 

Mischa Barton, a serial yo-yo dieter in different sizes in 2006, 2008 and 2009. 

No one is ever going to convince me to eat moderately and exercise regularly but myself. If things got of control, I absolutely cannot afford a personal trainer to get me back into shape at the snap of my finger. So now, I must think of finding a permanent solution to yo-yo dieting. And that is to reset my goal into having a healthy and active lifestyle instead of just fitting into my jeans in the next month or so- which in fact is just one of the many good results of living a healthy lifestyle. 

Perhaps the first step I am planning to take is to integrate an exercise regimen  that I enjoy doing on any given day so it does not become a boring chore.  It may take a few weeks or months to get that rhythm but the important thing is this becomes part of my routine 365 days a year. Motivation wise, I truly am amped up for this.

I think that being fit and healthy says a lot about a person's character. Taking good care of your well-being is not just a personal victory- you can be a beam of light to others. If you are successful in any goal that you have, big or small, it means that you can achieve anything! 

The end result is not what's really vital, whether or not you reach 50% or 99.9% of your ideal weight, but having something to improve on continually adds another purpose to your life. Isn't that what makes us happy? - when we hope for something, go ahead to chase it and enjoy its fruition.  

Saturday, March 5, 2011

My Silly Secret

Do you want to know a secret?

We all have nasty habits or secrets we don't want other people to know so we keep it safe to ourselves. And maybe, just maybe- only a circle of trusted friends knows that quirky side you've been keeping in years.

Deciding what part of yourself you want to share others is not always easy for the fear of being laughed at. I mean, not all people can get you without explaining too much. I bet you'll be called a freak if others find out you like salt too much that you can eat it by itself. But today that's the least of my concerns. 

I am opening a little shop of horrors *$&#* about myself- attempting to be brave. Don't worry, this is not even close to a monologue of exposé I intend on telling a shrink. I just remembered something I used to do, which I'm not sure anyone has ever done or will ever attempt if they're not at all half kooky. All I'm sure of is how silly the idea was. 

I'm dying to let this off my chest and wondering if by any chance someone else is as nuts as me who did something like this: 

The Crush Certificate

A crush certificate was a kind of document I used to prepare and sign to acknowledge that I have had a crush on someone for a period of time. I don't do this anymore but my 11-12 year old self certainly did. This certificate of appreciation was awarded to an exclusive pool of big time crushes I had in the late 90's.  

The most essential feature it had is an issue and expiry date. On every certificate I made for a crush, I have written the exact dates when I started having crushes on them and the exact dreadful day as well when I no longer find them cutest guy ever. Like when I found out that Stephen Gately of Boyzone was gay! 

Stephen Gately of Boyzone,
 one of the firsts who broke my heart.

To make it official, I sign my name on this document legibly as a declaration of 'love'. But I also bring meaning to every declaration by justifying why they are worthy of a Kat's Certificate of Appreciation because for me it's not just a spur of the moment thing. Like I stated reasons (gazillion of them) on what I liked about my crushes, like Nick Carter's serenading voice and charming smile. 

Nick Carter, once the apple of my eye.

I hunt for the best picture I can find in song hits magazines or newspapers and  paste it in this top secret document. So if in case someone blew my cover and found these crush certificates, they can at least give kudos for my taste for cuties. 

I have left behind a stash of these certificates on a well kept suitcase hidden in my room back in my home town. I'm hoping it's still there when I come back so I retrieve it and use it for cheering up myself on occasional bad days. I can't remember on what hooked me into doing that. It's like deciding at any early age I want my heart to be exclusive by dividing my heart into rooms meant only for people I really care about. 

Let me justify that perhaps during that time that's how I perceive adults are like when they are in love: crazy. So I tried to encapsulate a moment in time, through pieces of fine paper and handwritten scribbles of madness on what it felt like to be head-over-heels for the first time.