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Back from Singapore, enjoying my home system

Monday, May 28, 2012

So I am back from Singapore, what a course and trip. I landed on Tuesday morning, but it took me until Saturday for my clock to switch back. It's only 6h difference, and it was unusually long to switch. Maybe the food, the climate, Asia in general was a bigger change then just the clock.

My energy level is low now, so I decided this long weekend (we have Monday off for Pentecost/Pfingsten) I just stay inside, relax, and take it easy.
I enjoy being at home for my exercise and nutrition, here the environment I had set up for myself just keeps me in the flow of healthy life much easier.

I get back to tracking my food in Sparkpeople - even after a year I like to do some "perfectly tracked days", to see where I am in terms of calorie intake.

When I travel, it's much more energy, as I have to plan ahead, think about new options, tackle difficult daily agendas.

Fortunately, before the course, I requested the organizers to change the menu and include fresh fruits and vegetables for the coffee breaks. We had it every day, and the whole class was happy for it.

So, this is a tip for everbody here: When you go to an event just write to the organizers before, and express that healthy life is important to you. Request fresh fruits and vegetables to be on the menu.

My experience is that people are responsive even for a simple fact of asking for it. And then a 5 minute e-mail can make such a big change for the week's nutrition framework.

A shop in "Little India" in Singapore.
When I took the picture, it was ~85% humidity, and 36+ C (97F). Life on the Equator! :-)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LESLIE_2B_LESS 6/4/2012 12:05AM

    I so enjoy reading your blogs! What a great tip to email the organizers of events ahead of time to ask for fresh fruit & vegies.

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ZELLAZM 6/1/2012 4:50AM

    I'm enjoying all the short work weeks, too. Next week again with Fronleichnam. Working a 5-day week feels strange after so many holidays! Welcome back - and thanks for the reminder. For some reason, I can't convince our secretary to quit with the cookies at meetings, or at least have an alternative like a bowl of apples!

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GETSTRONGRRR 5/28/2012 9:19AM

    Welcome back....and real good advice to steer the snacks back to healthy!

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VADAVICTORIA 5/28/2012 7:51AM

    Ooh, did you get to have Chicken Rice?

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SHOOPETTE 5/28/2012 6:56AM

    Awesome job asking for food and veggies, I'll do it too now

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KMICHA 5/28/2012 5:23AM

    Welcome home! There really is "No place like home"! Great tip about the healthy fare. My husband travels a bit; I'll shate that with him. Are you home for a while now, or are you off again soon? Relax today, and enjoy the day off! We will be enjoying Memorial Day here.

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DUSTYPRAIRIE 5/28/2012 5:13AM

    Welcome home! What a great tip you shared. Good thinking on your part!

Have a nice post-vacation! Hope you catch up on your rest.

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KRISZTA11 5/28/2012 4:35AM

    Welcome back to the cool&dry part of the world!

I love your idea to write to the meeting organizers and request fresh fruits for the coffee breaks!
Most meeting organizers really want to please clients, only they don't always know how to. In this case, you kind of spread the Spark too : )

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Energy Vibes Singapore

Saturday, May 12, 2012

So, here I am at the other side of the World, well, comparing to myself.
First time in Singapore, first time in Asia.
I'm here until the 21st May, on my course on Organisational Development, with Gestalt. Great fun.

I didn't know where to go to run, so I just thought to get on the flow for some locals, and follow the lead.

Apparently, there's two type of weather here:
a) hot and humid
b) hot and humid with rain

Today's forecast:
33C 91F
55-90% relative humidity

Running felt extremely heavy, I could hardly finish a 5K, and with a moderate tempo my heart rate was up to 170 just like that.

Sweating is a waste of biological evolution here, it simply doesn't work.

I ended up in this beautiful garden. Felt like running in a rain forest. Although, I've never been into one.

There were tons of runners here, and from kick-boxing to interval-dogwalking the spectra was full. Everybody was busy doing some exercise.

Now I have to think about a plan, on how to go for this week of training, so there is exercise, nutrition, sleep.

Any tips (even repeat), welcome!

Good idea for the treadmill, I'll check if they have one in the hotel, or look up a local fitness. Otherwise, it was early morning!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ZELLAZM 5/20/2012 8:33AM

    Oliver, I don't use the LOL abbreviation very often because a post doesn't often make me really LOL. But your comment about the weather in Singapore did! It reminded me so much of how I feel when I'm in Florida, and I'm sure Singapore is even more so. If you were going to be there longer than a week, you would start getting used to it.
Enjoy your trip and WTG on keeping the healthy lifestyle going in distant places!

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    Love hearing about your adventures!!! You always make it work in the face of adversity - VERY awesome!! emoticon

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SHOOPETTE 5/12/2012 3:16PM

    Hot and Humid weather is definitely something I don't miss from asia, enjoy the delicious foods and fresh fruits!

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GETSTRONGRRR 5/12/2012 7:53AM

    It's tough when it gets real humid. Sun slower, run earlier in the morning when it's cooler & drier.

you may also want to consider working out indoors on a treadmill for some of it. You can do your speedwork or intervals with air conditioning

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KRISZTA11 5/12/2012 3:48AM

    Such a great idea, to follow flow of local people, and they led you to this wonderful garden!
That weather must be a challenge...
Marathon- You Can Do It! book advises to run slower in hot and humid weather, 30 min/mile for every 5 oF above 60 (!) oF.
So I guess 91 oF accounts for slowing down a bit ; )

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    Beautiful pics! Thanks for sharing. Wish I could help, but the only thing I can think of is air conditioned gym. Have a wonderful and enlightened trip.

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Operation Umbrella - waterproof works

Saturday, May 05, 2012

So, today I had this family reunion where "LOVE = FOOD" is on the flag of the castle.
(Check my previous blog from this morning.)

I found that even though I have many habits working, and I'm in a good shape, nothing beats preparation for a challenging event. Even such a small thing that I make a list of things to focus on in a blog beforehand. Congrats for myself!

It was good to scan the food before. I decided that I eat a lot of soup to start, super-minimize the main course, and save more room for desert. As there was no salad.
The main course was deep fried chicken in breadcrumbs, deep fried burger patties, fried in cheese pork, with potatoes, rice, and similar.

emoticon For drinks, I was on water all the time - in fact, I don't crave Fanta, Sprite and Coke anymore, and enjoy drinking water a lot. This developed over the last year. I remember in Spring 2011, I had to focus on drinking water, and had to invent all sorts of tricks to drink. Add lemon, effervescent vitamin tablets, tea, and so on.

Strategically, we moved to a table apart, where there were only "children" (I mean children in the family, not in age, like me, 35), and most at the table didn't care what the others eat. emoticon Of course, grandparents and parents kept an ongoing flow of food to the table - there was not a square-centimeter free.

We didn't talk about running, but we talked about nutrition. There was a family member (a grandpa - not from our side), who remembered me as 100 kg overweight guy. We met about a year ago last time.
He was surprised, and asked if I was sick, or how I lost weight. It turned out that he got diabetes recently due to his overweight, and had to cut sugar to 0% in his diet. He's a medical doctor, so was otherwise knowledgeable on food and nutrition. We talked a lot about calorie contents, budgets, what and when to eat, and so on. Others around got also into the discussion.

I was happy to read GETSTRONGRRR's advices on how to talk out myself from eating orders.

I think I will prepare some conversational virtual recordings for myself that I can use as a response for the typical "EAT ! - otherwise I don't believe you love me" messages.

This is from a recent run in Austria, Gleisdorf, near where I live:

What do you tell people, when they ask you to eat their food, and actually you want to keep in healthy eating road?
I'd be happy for any advice!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    Success!!! Good for you! It is great how you prepared what you were going to do and succeeded. And I am sure it was a great day at the end!

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ZELLAZM 5/6/2012 7:12AM


Great post about the family gathering - what an added bonus that you had people at your table to share conversation with - about the healthy lifestyle you're living. Sharing the Spark!

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KRISZTA11 5/6/2012 7:04AM

    Wow, your plan WORKED! Wonderful!
I know what you are talking about, my family used to have those huge meals, but feedback from younger generations brought some moderation.

The "EAT ! - otherwise I don't believe you love me" mentality is just as bad for our health as the traditional fatty meals (how I love deep fried chicken still!).
People really mean well and try to show they love, but in my experience nobody has any energy left for conversation after huge family lunches, instead everybody seems to doze off : (

When someone tries to force more food on me, I just repeat "no, thank you, I'm not hungry" - that usually helps.
I like this because it is honest and clearly shows that my decision to eat or not to eat has nothing to do with appreciation of love and hospitality.
It also helps to praise food I actually did eat.

Another bad thing in traditional Hungarian cuisine is that - as you mentioned - there is no salad, or if there is it is so small it is only good for decoration.
I always asked my mom or mother in law, if there was going to be a salad, and if no I offered I brought some myself. After a few months, there is always salad : )

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DUSTYPRAIRIE 5/5/2012 6:24PM

    You did great! I'll be getting together with family in the near future and am a little concerned about the same things. Hope to handle it as well as you did. I beleive a graduation party may be catered, so no telling what that might mean.

The best part of your blog - you are living proof that good nutrition works to our benefit. I got so sick of hearing folks whine about their weight and woes, yet did nothing about it.

You're walking the walk, not just talking the talk!

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GETSTRONGRRR 5/5/2012 5:48PM

    Glad it turned out well....another good piece of luck...stick with the winners, like the grandfather who can talk about nutirtion.

PS, Cinco de Mayo is a celebration in the US and Mexico....dates back to the Mexican Army defeating some of Napoleon III's forces back in the 1860s.....today it's an opportunity to eat good Mexican food and drink Margaritas!

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KIMBERTA99 5/5/2012 5:14PM

    Sounds like you handled the family event very well. And how awesome that a family member was talking to you about eating healthy!!

I think it is best to be honest. Let them know that you are living a healthy lifestyle. My family always understood when I would eat smaller portions or not touch a cetain food that was cooked in fat/oil. Let them know that it isnt that you don't LOVE their cooking but that you just don't eat certain foods anymore.

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Fatty Family Reunion - Operation Umbrella

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Today, we are in Budapest, a cousin of my girlfriend finished high school, and they have the celebration both in the school and the family.

I predict a lot of eating, family style, fatty soups, fatty pasta, fatty meat, fatty-sugary desserts, deep fried chicken and pork, lots of potatoes (deep fried and French fries).

All these doubled "if you don't eat, you don't love me", "I only made it for you", and similar messages. Not easy to deal with in an adult communication style.

So, my strategy today is:

emoticon 1. Scan the food at the start of the meal, and decide what and how much will I eat (instead on the fly - "just a bit more of this")
emoticon2. Portion control: small plate, no revisit to buffet table
emoticon3. One dessert only, that I eat slowly to enjoy
emoticon4. Start with salad if possible

emoticon5. Accept that people will talk in a way to make me feel guilty if I eat normal portions

emoticon6. Drink a glass of water starting the meal, and before the dessert
emoticon7. Drink 3x other times during the day

emoticon8. Bring my running gear with me, so we go directly to exercise when the program finishes, to keep up my focus on exercise (and away from eating)
emoticon9. Ask for nice places to run during the meal

My new Saucony 8mm heal to toe running shoes are excellent.
It was expensive.
Still, I see my friends spend this money only on eating out 4x times.

My POSE-running training will bi on Sat 9th June 2012, already confirmed.

This is from Malaga, last week:

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BONNIEBONNEAU 5/8/2012 11:26AM

I like your approach , step by step... isn't that , a lesson for everything in life ! ha emoticon

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LISAINMS 5/7/2012 5:56PM

    Your plan is great. How did it go? I really enjoyed Malaga.

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KIMBERTA99 5/5/2012 5:05PM

    Sounds like you have a great plan....and I am sure you will burn it off on your run!!

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MINDY502 5/5/2012 1:21PM

    There is nothing like having a plan and you always seem to have one way to stay on point!

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ZELLAZM 5/5/2012 10:17AM

    Oliver, your plans are good ones, always inspiriing - and from my experience reading your blogs, they WORK! So enjoy your day and work your plan! You'll do fine!

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GETSTRONGRRR 5/5/2012 8:30AM

    Always tough to go back to family events where the focus is so much on the food.

You've got a good plan, but remember that you've been living a disciplined life for a long time now, so any slips will be easily recoverable.

I've found that if I take small spoonfuls at first, then take a second small spoonful, it fulfills the requirement to show that I liked the food....I also throw in lots of compliments.

When they ask me to have some more, I say, "Thanks I would love to, but I'm saving room for dessert". Then at dessert I say, "I would love to, but I had so much of your delicious dish at dinner, now I'm so full, but please save me some for later, or let me take some home"

I've learned that older relatives just want to know that you enjoy their cooking, and they hate to think some of their food will go to waste. My brother and I used to take home lots of leftovers, then eat it.....or sometimes dump it, but taking it with us left everybody happy

Good luck!

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ON2GOALS 5/5/2012 8:11AM

    Sounds like an excellent plan! Enjoy the family and friends, and let the food take second (or third) place. And I agree with CLAIREINPARIS, I think others will be inspired by your commitment to fitness.

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    Good for you for planning so well in advance of the family meal! And such a great idea to ask for good places to run during the meal. Many others will be encouraged by your example?
Have a good time in Budapest, and thank you for the lovely photo from Malaga, I love these yellow arches!

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New shoes - finally!

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

So, finally, on Monday I took my girlfriend, and we made a trip to Vienna, to the "magic" running shoe shop.

My Nike Zoom Structure+ 14 US13 Breathe really wore out, after 1400km of mileage, they got really tired, and had not much cushioning.

It's on my plan to get a new pair of running shoes since January, when the mileage reached over 1000K (often I was recommended to change around 800K at latest).
However, instead of ordering just another pair online from the same shoes, I wanted to get into a shop and try some different makes. I felt the Nikes were to narrow for my wide feet, and I had doubts about the size.

Last week, on Thursday on the way back from Morocco, we made a stopover at Bikila.com in Malaga (Spain), to look for new running shoes.
I was thinking that a different country, different shop, they might have some new insight for me.

What we concluded after trying on several models, that I really should go from US13 to US14. The US13 size was not small, but was not big enough either, and was probably the main cause of the occasional blisters and one black toenail.

A few pairs in Malaga, all US13:

Then back in Austria, I went to all the big sports shop in Gleisdorf and Graz. They had good shoes from Asics, Brooks, Nike, Adidas, Saucony, but never above US13, and never all the brands in one place.
But I learned something new in each place.

The best fit was the Brooks, and maybe a pair of Asics.

Note, in Europe we usually use a different system to measure feet size, and my street shoe size is EU46.

Then, I made the decision to go to VCM Laufschuhexperte in Vienna. It's quite a trip, 4h to go, and 4h to get back, plus the train ticket. Just to go to a running shoe shop. Many around me thing I'm crazy - but healthy life is important for me, and I ran 30-50K per week, good shoes is priority.

Finally in Vienna, they had US14 (or above) from all type of brands and models, and I could try on all of them check the fit. They had also US13.5 also from many makes.

Length 29.5 cm (US 14 is 32cm as indicated in the shoe).

What makes the difference between a specialized store and a general sports store?

I didn't had to ask for the possibility to run in each pair. Instead, the seller TOLD me to get out to the street, and run around the block, and tell how it feels. I tried on several models and sizes, and went out to run.

Arch type between flat and high, closer to flat.

Then, we checked on the video enabled treadmil my step, and pronation, both in my old Nikes, and the new pair chosen.

What I learned, that last summer I had a heel strike. While now, I land on my forefoot. Therefore pronation control in the shoe is less important, but cushioning on the forefoot should be good. And my step in general in the new pair was much better.

In the end, I settled on a Saucony Triumph 9 US14 (150 / 200 USD).
The main reason was that it has only 8mm toe to heel elevation, and the forefoot strike is much easier in these (vs. the 12mm of the Brooks model I also liked).
If I have to rate the feel, the Saucony was only 7/10 for fit, while the Brooks was 8/10 for fit, but I thought to experiment with the 8mm elevation this time.

Another learning was that I decided to sign up for a 1 day POSE running technique workshop in Vienna. They record a video, teach all the drills, and proper technique for the POSE method. It's 120 Euros (160 USD) - steep, but then finally I can run with the new technique.

Stephan's Dom in Vienna, Austria

I tried on a pair of minimalist running shoes, too. Then I went for the usual round around the block.
It felt so great.
And I just cannot wait for my proper training on POSE.
I've already sent the e-mail to sign up!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    I really need to update my running shoes - thanks for all your information - I will definitely go to a specialist shoe store like you do - the service sounds awesome!

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    This is a very interesting, very informative blog! Thank you. When I am able to run again (I llllong for that day!), I'll definitely make sure I buy my next pair of running shoes from a specialised shop. The advice and ability to run in the shoes around the block is so worth it!
I hope you are enjoying your new shoes tremendously! It sounds like it was a useful trip!

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ZELLAZM 5/5/2012 10:21AM

    OOOOH I can't wait to get to the States to try on new shooooes! My current shoes are Asics but Saucony has worked for me in the past. Glad you found a good fit and learned something more about the science of shoooooes!

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GETSTRONGRRR 5/2/2012 10:57PM

    Great news! I like Saucony's as well, they just feel right.

What I found out the hard way was that i had been buying shoes too small my whole life. A guy in a running store told me to buy at least 1/2 size bigger than normal and to buy wide shoes.

He explained that the longer you run (like say a marathon or half-marathon), the more your foot expands in the shoe.

Today, I always make sure to have plenty of room in all my shoes!

(btw, my brother started training with the Chi-running style (similar to POSE) and it changed his life! He now runs longer and with less pain!)

Comment edited on: 5/2/2012 10:58:15 PM

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STRIVERONE 5/2/2012 10:21PM

    Hi Oliver,

Some information you shared with me convinced me to run on my forefeet also. Thank you.

Since I had not been running for long, I did not have old habits to break, but changing from a shoe designed for a heel striker made things a lot easier for me. I think you are going to have an exciting year.

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LAURIE9404 5/2/2012 9:41PM

    That sounds like an amazing adventure. You see the world, and get to learn new things about running shoes. I never get bored of your stories and the pictures are great! You look like you're having so much fun. Let us know how these shoes work out.

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