4 Gym Survival Tips for Beginners

Photo from http://www.recoversportsmed.com.au/
It started with a question that I asked myself in January. What if I’ll go to the gym? A few friends had been inviting me to try it. Some friends would flex and kiss their bulging arms as if telling me “sorry, you don’t have like this!” It took me a long time to try it. It was a personal dare to challenge myself. I decided to give it a try when I heard other friends talking about their New Year’s resolution. They were planning to go to the gym.
I thought after my first try, I would never go back to the gym. Two months later, I lost almost 3 kilos. I wrote a blog about it because I was excited to share it to others. To read about the detail, read my blog “I Lost 3 kilos in 2 Months.
Now, it’s been 6 months and I still continue to work out 3 times a week. And I plan to continue to allot time to sweat out at the gym. One obvious benefit I gained from sweating out is that I don’t easily get stressed. I became more energetic.
Someone asked me, how did you pass the first few days? I laughed at the question! I remember Googling about it. I always have poor muscular coordination. I wanted to prepare my mind how to make my first gym experience less awkward. And Boy, it was awkward. I felt awkward that I couldn’t look myself in the mirror while lifting the dumbbell. I wondered perhaps the tool was called a dumbbell because it made you feel dumb when you use it.
Looking back, I survived my first few dumb days in 4 ways.
1. Goal. Having a goal is very important. In whatever you do, you have to have a specific goal. If you don’t have a specific goal in mind, you would be clueless as to what you’re trying to achieve. My goal was to be healthier. I wanted to lose weight. People told me that I was never fat, so to them that was a crazy goal. I may not look fat but I was heavier than I look. I remember the instructor told me that perhaps I had plenty of excess water in my body. Three months after working out, he said that I was no longer “watery!”
2. Gauge. Before I became a gym enthusiast, I thought that it was only for the vain people. Why would there be huge mirrors there? Why would people love to stare at themselves? I realized that I was wrong! Until now, I still don’t stare at my reflection the whole time. Maybe, I just glance a little! To have a personal gauge is to assess yourself based on your own progress. Avoid comparing your performance with others. At first, I could barely lift a 5-pound dumbbell. I was never embarrassed about it because as Milo’s battle cry, great things start from small beginnings. After sometime, I began lifting 10 pounds, 15 pounds, and until recently 35 pounds. It does not make me a bodybuilder still. Anyway, that was never part of my goal. I still didn’t have the muscles as big as The Rock’s. But that is not the point of gauging my progress. It’s about comparing myself now from before. In a way, I made a little progress. And oh, just recently, I started lifting the barbell. A few months ago, I couldn’t even lift it an inch.
3. Yearning to learn. Even after 6 months, I still seek for assistance from the instructor. I still ask questions because I want to do what I do right. What should I do next? Am I doing it correctly? Can you be my spotter? Never assume that you know everything. Even if you have read the whole library about working out, but based on experience, actual application is still different. Before deciding to try working out, I already did my research on the proper shoes, proper posture, etc. It turned out that it was a lot “easier read than done.” You’ll learn only when you open yourself to ask questions. And oh! If you are not the instructor, don’t give others instruction on how to lift a dumbbell. If you can’t resist yourself and you feel that you would be a future gym instructor, then don’t just say how to do it. Show it!
4. Motivation. There are days when we prefer to just lay in bed than to go to the gym. Motivation ignites the fire in us. It helps me jump out of bed to wear my gym shoes. After work when I get exhausted and tempted to just sit and watch Youtube videos, I would push myself out and head straight to the gym. I make it a point to write every single day after work. I can’t write if I’m physically tired. Going to the gym has helped me restore my energy after work to hone my writing skill from 9 to 11 PM. Love is also another effective source of motivation. Though my wife-to-be told me that she was fine with my “watery” body, I still wanted to feel and look more attractive to her. And I think she already enjoys playing with my baby muscles!
These are based on my experience. You are free to experiment what works for you!
By the way, that man in the photo is not me, okay? I just want to be clear! Hehe

Excuses - Biggest Barrier

Photo from http://www.lorianngarner.com/
The biggest barrier to achieving our dream is not the lack of resources, skill or time. It’s the never ending excuses.

Since I was a little kid, I knew I wanted to become an author someday. When I would wake up in the middle of a nightmare, I would grab a pen and piece of paper, then I would write and write, until I doze off to sleep with a pen in my hand.
Using our old typewriter, I would copy phrases from the Bible, greeting cards and old newspapers, then glue the papers together and scribble a nicely written name on the cover. Then, I became the youngest author in town.  I didn’t know, it was like piracy.
As I grew older, I realized that there were more urgent matters in life than writing. People told me that writers don’t have a career path and most of them are bound to suffer in vain and they die with bitter ashes in their mouth. So in college, I took Engineering.
Writing had to be put on hold because I got so busy with school. Maybe I’ll have time to write after college.
But after college, I became so busy with work. Then, there was Facebook. Plus I had Toastmasters. Maybe I’ll have time to write after my retirement.
I also learned that becoming a writer takes more than just the love of writing. It requires hard work, hard work and a lot of hard work, which means, writing is not always fun.
It also requires a lot of money, which means that I still can’t retire from my job.
It also requires skill. But looking back, my writing skill was never a favorite of my teachers.
When I was in Elementary, I wrote a reaction paper. "The air was crisp with coldness as I was awakened by the kids singing Jingle Bells in off key. I set forth to watch from the window, imagining myself beheading them and leaving their lifeless bodies bathed in cold blood."
After submitting that “reaction paper,” my teacher told me “I think you have a big problem!”
So perhaps, I was never meant to be a writer!
A year ago, while I was cleaning my room, I found the 5 chapters of the Harry Potter-inspired novel, which I wrote back in college. Because I was always so busy, I never finished writing it. While reading the manuscript, it brought back the thrill I had as a kid when I imagined myself as an author.

So, I decided to take another shot at writing. I bought books on how to write a book. I read books that are close to my writing style. I studied some videos on writing, editing and publishing. Then, I enrolled in a writing course where I met mentors and aspiring authors. One of my classmates had Parkinson’s Disease. She couldn’t write using a pen and she could barely type using a keyboard. But her desire to deliver a message was so strong that no disease could stop her.
As I reflected, I could say that the worst disease to stop me from achieving my dream is my excuses.

Slowly, with the support from my mentors, I managed to rekindle the burning desire to simply write one word at a time to finish a sentence, until it became a paragraph, then a chapter, until a few months later, my first book was finally available in online bookstores worldwide!
Now you may ask me, “Will it land in the best-seller list?” I don’t know. I hope so. That’s another story, but without that first book, there wouldn’t be any second or third or any future best-sellers!
We only have one shot at life. If you have a dream but you don’t do anything about it because you think you lack resources, skill, and you are always so busy, time will come when you say to yourself “I wish I did that before!”

Whatever it is that you dream of, big or small, the only way to find out if it’s even possible to achieve it is to try it. Work hard towards it. And most of all, stop making excuses.

Acceptance Speech - Club President 2016 - 2017

Toastmasters has become an important part of my life, both my professional and personal.
In our job, regardless of task, we need to be competent. According to ISO 9001:2015 Clause 7.2, competence is a demonstrated ability to apply knowledge and skill. While being competent is great, it is not enough. You have to share it to others. That is the ultimate goal in life.
Acquiring knowledge and skill requires hard work. While, demonstrating them requires patience, persistence and even faith.
Patience and persistence are quite obvious, but why is faith important in our job? It’s because sometimes, even when we have a career path in mind, there will always be humps, bumps and detours.. Even if we don’t like it we got plenty of those at work.
And sometimes, you get assigned to certain roles that require you to do tasks that you hate. It makes you ask yourself, “what’s the point of doing these things?”
That is where faith comes in. Faith makes you see what your eyes cannot see. I learned that from my mentors in toastmasters. From them, I learned how to find meaning and value in anything that I do, whether it’s in my job or in other aspects of life.
In my personal life, toastmasters helped me unleash my truest self-confidence. Growing up, my confidence was so-so. Before toastmasters, self-doubt was best friend.
For instance, in college, I was a dean’s lister this year. The next year, I was a failure. “But why bother getting good grades when my parents were always busy minding their own personal lives, that they missed to give time to validate my little achievements?” That was me talking to myself as a self-doubter.
In toastmasters, I’ve met people who constantly remind me that I am good at this or that. And yes, it gave boost to my self-confidence, BUT that is not what true confidence is all about. True confidence is having a strong will to help others without soliciting for any validation, without blowing one’s horn and without asking something in return.
Mahatma Gandhi once said that the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. That is where my confidence was honed.
Being an officer of any organization, regardless of position is an opportunity to lose yourself. Losing yourself means commitment. Commitment means sacrifice, with your time and sometimes resources. And despite all your sacrifices, you will still receive some soul-wrecking criticisms and objections. That’s part of the challenge. And even if you’ve done it before, it will always remain a fresh challenge.
With that I say, fellow toastmasters, I humbly take this challenge to serve you once again, as President of Pillars Toastmasters Club.

To paraphrase President Duterte's statement, I cannot do this alone. But together as officers and members, we can!