Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Cambodia Diaries: Angkor Wat, Siem Reap

I am grateful that I have the opportunity to see the world one city, one country at a time. 

This barrio girl imagined the world as a little girl through the eyes of the countless authors whose books I have read. Back then, traveling seemed like a preposterous idea, money-wise. Three decades later, traveling is a limitless possibility. Thanks to budget airlines, the Internet for hotel and tour options that are within reach of one's fingertips. 

On the eve of the commemoration of the EDSA Revolution, we leave for a country much storied about the atrocities it suffered in the Khmer Rouge Regime. In the 70s, Phnom Penh was dubbed as the killing fields. 

Three decades later, it is rebuilding its country and opened its doors to tourism. It is significant to note that Angelina Jolie put the country into the map when she made the movie, Tomb Raider in the now UNESCO protected Angkor Wat in the city of Siem Reap. 

We can't wait to see and marvel at the architectural wonder of Angkor Wat. 
Photo Source: Wikipedia

Get to know the locals and their culture. Try its local cuisine. Bike around the temples. Watch the sunset. Catch the sunrise. People watch.

I hope to witness how this country has transformed itself and its people re-building their lives, their identity. I want to give back. 

Watch out for my Siem Reap photo blog in the next few days!



Monday, February 24, 2014

Yogini Wannabe

I have a confession to make. My life has narrowed so tightly to just work, yoga and the occasional hangout with friends -- after yoga. In between, I squeeze in a little quality time with the husband. 

In January this year, I made a vow to practice yoga at least 3x a week. My reasons are as varied as the stars in the universe. But one thing that kept me on my toes has been the stark reality of aging, wellness and motherhood-dreams.  

I have never been the athletic type growing up. I dabbled in badminton and bowling but these are all just recreational pursuits. Nothing really for health and fitness. In my early 20s, vanity was second nature to me. Next to the mall, my second most frequented place was the gym. Yes, I signed up in an insanely expensive gym and bought ridiculously overpriced gym gear so I stay motivated. 

Those were the years that I'd firmly stick to gym first before hanging out with friends. I even go to the gym immediately after church service! But those years were gone. And those stick-to-it-tiveness mantra slipped away with the wind more than a decade later. 

I saw myself growing extra layers around my mid-section, little by little. But I got paralyzed into inaction. Instead of doing something about it, I let it go. And then one day, something snapped in me. 

Last year, I made the decision to go back to practicing bikram yoga again. About five years ago, I tried it. I sort of hated and loved it. And it kept me going. However, work-life got in the way and I allowed it to be a definitive excuse for living a sedentary life. 

From then on, my life got a little more complicated. I developed a hypo-thyroid which makes my metabolic rate slower than it already is. And the constant dinner out and fast food meals added to my ONE BIG FAT SELF. 
Look at my round belly! This nasty shape was taken in January 2014.
This February (2014), my tummy became less protruding; less scary.
Last year, I made a re-entry into the health club. I went back to my old Bikram Yoga studio. It was a struggle going to the studio because of the incessant temptation to just go to the mall, dinner out with friends and just plainly succumb to laziness. 

The road to fitness for myself is long, winded and an uphill battle. Showing up with my mat at the studio is an everyday mental challenge. January 2014 saw me struggle and juggle work and my yoga practice. It saw me ditching conference dinners in favor of attending a yoga session. 

I've shown up in work events with my yoga mat, in tow, in the hopes that if and when the event ends before 7pm, I shall make a dash to the studio. I've had close calls where I arrived at the studio with just literally one-minute to spare before the class starts: setup my mat and towel and change into my yoga outfit. 

I made a pact with myself: if I make it to the studio 21x then, yoga will be my way to wellness. Everyday, I cross off the date on my calendar that I've gone to yoga. And it gives me great satisfaction that in spite the work schedule (local business trips), I have attended 34 sessions in total for January and February. Yay!

I set out to do yoga so I am able to help ease myself into a healthy lifestyle. I eat less. I have substituted rice for easier to digest carbs. I have given up soda and other flavored drinks. I drink more water, at least 3000mL everyday. I sleep better at night. 

It's been two months that I religiously went to the studio. I began with the goal of just being active albeit low impact so I can correct my habits and lifestyle. Two months later, I discovered that I can now touch my toes, bend my back and fit in my clothes better. Two months later, I lost 3 inches in my mid-section; 5lbs from my overweight being. And I gained several inches of renewed hope that I will get to a better shape before the season ends. 
A photo taken last 22 Feb 2014. Notice my tummy? hehehe

Everyday, our battle cry is to deliver the plan. And to bend it like Bikram. 

I am a long way from there but I can see that the end is in sight. The road may be slippery but I will hold on regardless of the endless soreness on my thighs, on my arms, and on my back. And anywhere else that has been stretched, pulled, and tightened. 

My Yoga Buddy, Dawn is an inspiration. And my accountability partner.

If you want to see if Bikram Yoga can be your vehicle to fitness, go check it out. Click here. You might just love it. And it would be so awesome to meet you there. And I tell you the teachers are superb, fabulous and kind. There are so many yoga studios that have sprouted around the metro but I found myself just loving the first studio that introduced me to the hot room, Bikram Yoga Manila. 

Dawn and I are really inspired to take our yoga journey seriously that we are writing a diary about it. 

Good luck on your hot, hot, hot date! See you there! And please watch out for our Bikram Diaries.