Yudhvir

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my love/hate experiments with running

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More than running, this blog post is about habits that form habits. I always hated running, I still do. It is boring, tiring, I mean who likes the feeling of getting out of breath. I have never run even a kilometer in one go. I like sports like cricket, badminton and swimming. Both cricket and badminton do not require you to run a lot continuously. All of us have read or told by that running is good for health and its many benefits. 

  1. Start very slow: I started so slow that I didn’t even run! I started by just walking and walk is something that I enjoy. I had no plan or intention of forming a habit of running. After first few initial walks, I started to jog a bit and thanks to NIKE+ Running App I had a record of my previous walks to compare. This it might look a bit silly to start so small but seriously if you try you will see the magic.
  2. Caution! dont be over ambitious: I run only in weekends, sometimes only on Saturday. You might laugh at it but it is far better than not running at all. Slowly I have started to like running.  Another important aspect is that you have to commit to it. Sometimes just showing up is all you have to do. It doesn’t matter how long you do it. Just show up.
  3. Every-time stretch the limit a bit more: Doesn’t matter if its the distance or pace, every-time you go for a run you need to stretch the limit little more. You will be surprised how far you can go.  I have started to build stamina now. I am enjoying this new habit.

  4. Keep going: Find ways to enjoy….challenge yourself…and keep going….

'journey of thousand miles begins with a single step.' - Lao Tzu

P90X: The program that transformed me

A lot of people find it surprising but the truth is that during last six months of my transformation I did all workouts at home except few runs outside. I did P90X in 2011 and saw some excellent results, but quickly lost it due to the bad eating habits and no exercise. So when I decided to get back into shape earlier this year, I knew this is the program that can get me lean, fit, healthy and quick results. I started P90X on 1st Jan 2013 and finished it on 6th April 2013. I took me slightly longer than 90 days because of one week break due to travelling. 

So what is P90X?
P90X is a home fitness workout program developed by Beachbody and was launched in 2003. It is said to be one of the most successful and the most difficult home workout program put on the DVD. You can imagine the success of the program by the fact that in 2010, P90X alone generated 430$ million revenue for Beachbody [source: Wiki].

P90X stands for Power 90 Extreme. Full program is of 90 days and consists of several phases. It is an intense program. P90X has a lot of variety built into it like Weight Training, Yoga, Martial Art and some Athletic Training. Even if you are fit, you will still find this program very challenging. 

Anyone can do P90X. Modifications are shown for most of the exercises, there is beginner version, extreme versions and in-between version.

What P90X isn’t:
If you are looking to put on a lot of muscle mass and want to become a punk and show off huge biceps then P90X isn’t for you. P90X is there to make you stronger, faster, leaner and fitter.

P90X isn’t easy but it works. Its not a program where you lie on floor for 15 minutes and it will reduce fat. Those programs never work. You will have to work hard for almost an hour everyday.

How it works?
You play a DVD on your TV set or on your laptop and do the exercises while watching/listening to it. I suggest you watch the workout couple of times before starting it.

What you need:
You would need minimum equipment to get started with P90X. Most of the exercises are done using body weight or minimum equipment. : Dumbbells, Pull-up bar, Yoga Mat. 

How much time you need
You need somewhere from 45 mins to an hour for the workout + 15 minutes for the Abs exercise  I usually kept around an hour everyday. There is a Yoga workout which 90 mins long. Every week we have 168 hours and spending 5 hours on your health is a reasonable ask.

How many days in a week
As per the program you will required to workout 6 days a week. Though initially I felt its a bit too much so I set the target of doing 5 workouts a week. 

Workouts:
Strength workouts: Every week, 3 workouts out of 6 are combination of strength trainings that will help you build some lean muscle mass. It covers Chest, Back, Shoulder, Arms, Legs and Abs. If you have done gym or strength training earlier then you can perform these exercises. But the biggest challenge is the volume and speed at which it is done. In every workout you will be doing minimum two body parts and approximately 30 exercises in 45 mins. I under estimated it and puked during my first two days.

Plyometrics: Also called jump training, this workout will greatly increase the athletic ability. You can jump higher, run & move faster. Initially I found this a difficult but over a period of time it became my most favorite workout. There are 20 exercises and each is done twice, that means you will be doing 40 exercises 45 mins. That sounds insane, isn’t it?  but the good part is that most of the exercises are 30 seconds and few are one minute long.

Yoga-X: I don’t have to write much about the benefits of Yoga, you all know it. Yoga in P90X is pretty intense and long (90 mins.) It is I still have difficulty to start this workout. It is slow, very uncomfortable, quiet and no loud music. But there are amazing benefits. 

1. First one is that you feel calm. 

2. Second: I used to have back pains but after doing regular Yoga, it is almost disappeared now.

3. Third: It helps in recovery.

4. Increased the flexibility

Kenpo-X: This is comparatively easier workout. I have missed it most of the times. It is a mix of several martial arts and covers jabs, cross-body punches, hooks, and uppercuts, front-kick, side kick, back-kick etc.

Where is Cardio!? 
You must be wondering how would you lose weight without Cardio. Well, there is no separate Cardio workout, it is built into the various workouts. For example in Shoulder & Arms workout there are 15 exercises and each one needs to be done twice. That means you will do 30 exercises in 45 minutes. Similarly, Plyometrics workout will leave you gasping for air. 

Tracking:
A good fitness program is much more than the exercises put into it. P90X comes with an excel file that works like a guide to bring all workouts together and helps in keeping track of the workouts. It is designed in such a way that you capture a lot of details. For example number of workouts, reps, weight, total, regular body measurements etc. Someone has rightly said that devil is in the details.

The biggest difference
Tony Horton is the life of P90X. If I use the analogy of a movie, in a good movie you need a good story, direction, music etc. but the role of an Actor and his acting is an extremely important. And that is the role of Tony Horton in P90X. He brings the life into the program with his humor.

mistakes I made during the program:
- I ended up puking for first 2 days.I shouldn’t have pushed so hard on the very first day.

- Should have eaten more clean food.

- Consistency: I missed few workouts during initial few weeks.

Just to give you an idea, here is my couple of before/after stats: 

Total Pull-Ups in a workout:

Day 01: 045

Day 90: 169

Total Push-Ups in a workout:

Day 01: 050

Day 90: 193

After completing P90X on 6th April 2013, I did P90X2, it is the next level of P90X2. Reviews coming soon.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU WEIGH AND MEASURE?

This is one of the most common decision people come across during their transformation. Most people usually follow following 3 approaches: Daily, Weekly & Monthly.

Here is how different weight tracking frequencies look like:

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Daily
When people start their journey to get fit and lose weight, they have this urge to check their weight or waist size everyday or several times a day. We all want fast results. Our body works in some mysterious ways and it takes time to understand it. Your weight can vary depending upon various things like: water retention, kind of food you have eaten, time of the day you weigh, clothes you are wearing etc. You will have some cheat days and you will get little off track. If you weigh daily then you will often get disappointed.

Weekly
Weekly measurement gives you more balanced view of the progress. We all are bound to get couple of bad days, weekly tracking makes it easier to adjust and come back on track. It isn’t too short or too long. Make sure you measure around the same time. I weigh and track my weight every Saturday morning before breakfast.

Monthly
A month is a too long period to measure. One can get really off track and might find it difficult to get back on track. 

In short: 
I have observed that best way is to benchmark it weekly and make changes in your routine based on it. In addition it useful to check weight 2-3 times a week just to see how your body is reacting to day-to-day changes in exercise and diet.
Ideally you should have a very close idea of your weight before step on the scale. If you are paying close attention to your diet, exercise and weight trend then you can easily develop the sense of how your weight is moving. You shouldn’t get surprises on the weighing scale.

 

Remember: ‘Slow progress is the progress.’

[Review] MacBook Air 2013

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I recently bought MacBook Air 13-inch. It is by far one of the most beautiful product I ever owned. Apple once again proved that specs are bullshit. For example, you won’t find the storage space or processor specs impressive on paper but once you hold it, you will realize how awesome it is. And when you use it, you will fall in love, it works like a charm.


Unboxing

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Apple makes packaging with lots of love. They test hundreds of packaging options before finalizing one. Unboxing MacBook Air is pretty much similar to other Apple products. Box contains 13-inch MacBook Air, 45W Mag Safe Power Adapter, Power Cord, Quick Start Guide, 2 Apple Logo Stickers and a User Guide.



Design

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Design is not only how it looks but how it works. MacBook Air is unbelievably thin and light but at the same time it is very powerful, durable and quiet. It weighs only 1.35 kg. Its height is from front is 0.3 and 1.7cm towards the back. Before buying it, I read the reviews on many sites. One thing that everyone agrees is that it is the most beautiful laptop available in the market. Which I absolutely agree after using it for couple of weeks.

 

Performance

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It boots up in just 10 seconds! During last two weeks, I used several applications like: MS-Office, Adobe LightRoom 5, Adobe Photoshop CS6, lots of web browsing, iTunes and VLC for watching some movies. So far the speed is amazing. It is more than capable of managing everyday tasks. Apple once again proved that specs are bullshit. What matter is how it works.

It has the flash storage which is 9X faster than the usual hard-drives. All applications launch very quickly. Though 128GB isn’t huge but it makes up for the performance.


Ports

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Right Side: one Two USB-3 port (up to 5 Gbps),Thunderbolt port (up to 10 Gbps) and one SDXC card reader.

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Left side: one USB-3 port, power adapter port, headphone port and two mics.


Minimal

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A lot of people might find it surprising, even shocking that there is only 128GB of storage space, there is no CD/DVD drive or LAN card in MacBook Air. I do not even remember when was the last time I used a CD/DVD or connected to internet using LAN cable. A lot of my data in now on Cloud (Dropbox & iCloud) or if needed I use USB drive. For internet I have been using WiFi for many years now. There are only two USB ports which is fine for me. I was very happy to see the SD card reader. I click a lot of pictures and SD card reader makes it really easy to transfer the pictures. Though there is no SD card in the 11-inch MacBook Air.


Battery

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All Day battery life: It is absolutely insane. Thanks to Intel’s new Haswell processors. Once fully charged, MacBook Air battery runs for amazing 12 hours. I don’t think there is any other laptop that can match it.


Keyboard

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Backlit Keyboard: It is just brilliant. Durable and Comfortable. The trackpad itself is huge, and more than adequate to perform swiping and pitching gestures comfortably.


WiFi

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WiFi: 802.11ac (Gigabit Speed) WiFi speed is a bit too much for me. I am still using an 802.G (54Mbps) WiFi Router. Though there were initial WiFi bugs and my internet connection kept dropping. But last week Apple released an update which has fixed the bug.


 
HD camera

image720p FaceTime HD camera. Perfect for video chat on Skype.



Power Adapter

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imageIts amazing how Apple can make even a power connector so playful and enjoyable. Use of magnet is brilliant. It attaches easily and detaches cleanly from both sides.


MacBook Air vs. iPhone5

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MacBook Air (2013) vs. MacBook Pro (2011)

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iPhone5 vs. MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro (2011)

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Backside

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Price

Well, it is the only downside. MacBook Air 13-inch is priced at 74,900 INR. After getting a student discount of 11,000 INR, I got it for 63,900 INR. Cost of 256GB version is 88,900 INR, which is 14K more just for the additional 128GB storage.

here is the secret….and you don’t want to hear it.

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I was gaining weight, my waist size kept increasing, I was no longer able to fit into my clothes. On first January 2013, I made a resolution to get back into shape. Here I am six months later, back into shape, feeling awesome. 

I look back and see what is that one thing that has made the biggest difference. There are many answers comes to my mind: Willpower, Determination, Passion, Discipline etc. They all are important and play a vital role. But the secret is habit.

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Fitness is a journey, not a destination.You might temporarily get some results but if you don’t form a habit then these results won’t last for long. Willpower can get you started but soon this willpower will start to fade away if you don’t form the habit. Once you realize that the secret is habit you can start focusing on how to form habits.

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Start very small. Journey of thousand miles begins with a single step. Don’t be over ambitious. Start very small. Try to enjoy it. Even 5 minutes is fine. Do not underestimate the small efforts. Celebrate the small successes.

10 things I did to get back into shape

Here is what I have learned from my transformation in last six months.

  1. Exercise. 3 or 4 days is not enough. 5 days is better. 6 days for best results.
  2. Start small. Baby steps are fine. Just start. Dont Wait. Do it now. Even 5 minutes is fine.
  3. Variety is key. Do resistance training. Do Running. Do Swimming. Do Yoga. Play Sports. Dance. Have Fun. Do whatever you love. Variety is spice of fitness.
  4. Eat Clean. Nope, you are not really eating clean. 
  5. Keep going. Yes, keep going. There will be days/weeks when scale might not move. Forget the scale and keep moving.
  6. Have mini goals. Find challenge within challenge. Crush it.
  7. Cheating is permitted. Cheat meals are fine. Yes. Really. But not more than 1 or 2 meals in a week.
  8. Have Fun.You wont be able to do it for long if you dont enjoy it.
  9. Track Progress. If you can’t measure it, you can’t control it. Write down your weight, reps, timing, size. Devil is in the details.
  10. Don’t be fucking lame.

More to follow.

Review: Mud, Sweat, and Tears: Bear Grylls’ Autobiography

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Thanks Debo for recommending ‘Mud, Sweat, and Tears’, Bear Grylls’ autobiography. This book exactly was its title says: Mud, Sweat and Tears. It is fast paced with small chapters (110!) . Most interesting part of the biographies is the struggle before one becomes successful. This book is about Bear’s two main adventures before he became successful: His selection in the UK’s Special Forces SAS (Special Air Services) and his climb to the Mount Everest. Bear goes through so many situations where he had push body to the limit and then push a little more. It is an inspiring book that shows mental strength is more important than physical strength. Be willing to pay the price. 

Book is mainly divided in four parts:

1.Childhood: It covers some of his childhood adventures which sets up the nice foundation for what is to come. His early life influenced his adventure for outdoor, hiking, trekking, camping. It is a little slow beginning and little boring in parts.

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2.SAS Selection: This is a very detailed account of Bear’s  selection to the SAS forces. For months he had to go through brutal training. Ploughing through thigh-high snow, or nearly being blown over by strong winds. He would often carry 75lb backpacks – roughly the weight of an eight-year-old child. The weekly drill nights consisted of physical training – long runs, grueling strength tests and fireman’s lifts – map-reading lessons, medical training and weapons handling. Mental strength was valued as highly as physical resilience. Slip up for a second and you fail. Finally how he made it to the SAS. But due to confidentiality of SAS, Bear didn’t share the details of the assignments. This section finally ends with how he broke his  back during a parachuting accident. 

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3.Climbing Mount Everest: This is by far the most interesting and inspiring part of the book. Just 18 months after his back was broken, Bear decided to climb Everest. He had very little money and to struggle to get sponsored for the climb.
This is the first time I read about the details of climbing Mount Everest. So many people die while trying to reach to the top and make their dream come true. Everyone who climbs it knows that he might not have returned. While climbing, there is so little that one can control, it is the Everest that lets you reach to the top. Oxygen deprivation robs you of memory, of feeling, of power. At 29,000ft height up in the sky air is thin with 40mph winds trying to blow off the ice and temprature is -40F degree. Body is dying every minute, you have limited time before it gives up on you. Bear shares the fear he felt time to time and how he almost ran out of oxygen but finally made it to the top of the world. 

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4.Mr. Successful: This section is much shorter than I expected. Bear just rushes through the final chapters. It covers journey from how he began delivering lectures to sailing clubs, colleges, corporation and how he became successful and got opportunities to do TV shows like Man Vs. Wild, Wild/Born Survivor, Worst Case Scenario.

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It is an amazing book. If you love adventure go read it.

Here is a small collection of quotes from the book:

The laws of physics dictate that if you keep moving up, however slowly that might be, you will eventually reach the top. It’s just that on Everest the process hurts so much.

'when you’re going through hell – keep going.’

‘But what makes our work here (at SAS) extraordinary is that everyone here goes that little bit extra. When everyone else gives up, we give more. 

‘If you have to ask, you will never understand.’

‘If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.’

‘Ninety-nine per cent cautiousness; 1 per cent recklessness.’

‘When written in Chinese, the word “crisis” is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.’

It is about understanding that the moment to shine brightest is when all about you is dark.

You have got to work together, work hard, and go the extra mile. Look after each other, be ambitious, and take calculated, well-timed risks.

Give your heart to the goal, and it will repay you. Now, are we talking business or climbing? That’s what I mean.

Things I couldn’t do earlier, challange within challange:

One of my key focus in 2013 is on fitness. My target was to get back into shape, become fitter, stronger, run faster and farther. It always interesting find challenges within challange. There are some mini goals which keeps the journey interesting. Here are some of such things which I couldn’t do earlier but while trying to improve my overall fitness I am able to do now:

  • Crane Pose (Bakasana in Sanskrit): After many frustraing attempts for months finally I am able to hold Crane pose for over 30 seconds now. one day, all of a sudden, I started to hold Crane pose for couple of seconds. From there on timing has been constantly improving. It certainly requires Strength but more importantly the balance.

  • Four ball push-ups: I can only do 6 or 7 pushups on four med balls but I couldn’t do even a single one earlier. Again after a lot of failed attempts I am able maintain the balance for few seconds to do push ups.

  • One hand pushup: This is probably I underestimated the most. I initially thought it would be easy but it was not. I tried it every week for the first three months but couldn’t do it. I didnt do it for couple of months and then one day I tried again and could do couple of them. I realized that my hand and feet placement was the issue. It good to give a little break sometimes.

     
  • Running 5K: I never ran even 2 kilometers on a go. Though I play some sports but none require continuous running. I started slowly and have now reached my 5K goal. hope to keep pushing.

Here is another set of pictures from my recent Manali trip. All these pictures were taken from iPhone. Just wondering if it is really worth taking a bulky DSLR or just iPhone is enough.

Here is the first set of images from my trip to Manali + Rohtang Pass. 

All pictures clicked with my Canon 550D, lenses used: 50mm prime and 18-55mm.

5 months on, still sticking to my new year resolution

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I have always been skinny or slim all my life but for the last couple of years I started to put alot of weight. My waist which used to be 29 in 2008, all of a sudden became 35! Some things in life change so slowly that you don’t even realize it. 

My resolution for 2013 was to get into the best shape of my life. Which means improving in the following areas:

  • Speed
  • Stamina
  • Power
  • Strength
  • Balance
  • Flexibility

To simplify my resolution I set the target to do the minimum 16 workouts every month (4 workouts every week). I kept a buffer of 3 days every week in case I miss out for few days. Here are my results so far:

Target: minimum 16 workouts every month 

  1. JAN - 19 workouts
  2. FEB - 17 workouts
  3. MAR - 21 workouts
  4. APR - 26 workouts
  5. MAY - 29 workouts

What I have learned in last 5 months is that beginning is always the most difficult. WIll power gets you started but habit is what keeps you going. 

Jobsker = Steve Jobs + Joker
Sometimes you can have best of both sides :) 
I wanted a wallpaper for my iPhone and I couldn’t decide on Steve Jobs or Joker so I merged both pictures in photoshop. 

Jobsker = Steve Jobs + Joker

Sometimes you can have best of both sides :) 

I wanted a wallpaper for my iPhone and I couldn’t decide on Steve Jobs or Joker so I merged both pictures in photoshop. 

Prisha & Aadya: Just dont go by how they look. They are brats.
[Shot with Canon 550D]

Prisha & Aadya: Just dont go by how they look. They are brats.

[Shot with Canon 550D]