Friday, August 9, 2013

Summer time in Saipan

Summer in Saipan often means less crowds at any place as families go on summer holidays, move to Guam, the mainland, or back to China, Japan, Korea, Philippines, etc. Saipan is a transient community but in the summer, you often notice how many people are gone. Aside from the Russian University Games, we've been here on island, keeping ourselves ever so busy with a multitude of activities with friends. We're spinning, swimming, and mountain biking together and while Russ' intensive volleyball coaching came to a sudden halt after his trip, it'll resume again next weekend.

We've had dinners at our home, out to restaurants and our own personal happy hour at Lau Lau Bay with the dogs. There's so much to do and we're blessed with many friends who'll share our experiences with us.

A couple weekends ago, we went to Naked Fish for a "Fight Cancer" fundraiser for one of Angela's classmates. He's been in the Philippines receiving treatment for oral cancer and was able to skype on that evening to see the support he's received from his Saipan friends and family.  On that evening, we enjoyed great company, nice food and fun entertainment. Our friend, Ed's nieces and nephews, entertained us on stage to sing a few songs.

Afterwards, Ed and his nieces performed the "Cup Song" from the movie, "Pitch Perfect". The crowd really enjoyed it!

Staying Active:

I've been spinning in the gym, working out each week and mountain biking a couple times a week and just last week, I've started golfing again! Last week, I got 5 pars and shot a 90! A couple days ago, I got 7 pars and shot an 85! How did I do it? 

Well, it must be a combination of a few things that's changed in my life:
1. Minimal stress. While I keep busy each day with different tasks, especially with the HOM race preparations, I don't let myself stress out like I used to. I do what I can and let it go if I can't finish something in a day.

2. Left shoulder & left knee surgeries in the last two years. As a right handed player, the left side of the body controls the direction of my swing. With less tension and strength, I no longer "push" my body to achieve the swing. I just do it, usually without a practice swing. I'm careful not to swing too much so that I don't irritate my shoulder or knee so the swing feels smoother.
3. Weight reduction. Although I've maintained a steady exercise regimen for many years, I've only really changed my diet this year. First, it was taking six weeks during Lent to eliminate all sweets and processed foods. I also tried a more gluten-free diet. I automatically dropped 8 pounds from that (116lbs to 108lbs).
After feasting in Europe and eating some sweets again, my weight increased to 110lbs and I've been able to maintain that... until the last two weeks.

Russ heard through a friend about the benefits of the "Fast Diet; aka 5:2 Diet" where participants eat normally 5 days a week and reduce their calorie intake to 600 calories (men) or 500 calories (women)

Known as intermittent fasting, this supposedly allows the body to reduce its cholesterol, triglyceride levels as well as body fat. The first week, we fasted on Tues and Fri and this week, it was Mon and Thu. Since I keep active, I eat more than 500 calories, but I checked my weight at the gym this morning and I'm at 107 lbs., the lowest I've been in over 2 decades. Am I skinny? No. I'm leaner but you can see in the photo below that I haven't changed much. Muscle does weigh more than fat and I'm definitely stronger. With poor knee joints, staying on the lean side prevents excessive stress on them. Being lighter feels better and I'm able to bike and swim better as well.The improved golf score is an extra bonus.
 I've never been a fan of dieting before because intrinsically, I know that diets don't work. It has to be a lifestyle change. So far, I'm a fan of the 5:2 eating strategy as I still eat normally 5 days a week and limit my intake on the other two. On those two days, I become very creative in my cooking so that our dinner is only 250 calories. We eat lots of vegetables! Last night, we feasted on cauliflower "fried" rice, sauteed bean sprouts and we each ate a whole artichoke (no mayo/soy dipping sauce).

I'll have to go and get a physical soon with bloodwork to accurately measure my cholesterol, triglycerides, insulin levels and see how much it's improved.  Health is something that I can't take for granted. After several surgeries and setbacks, I'm ready to be completely "well" again.