Moving on to the more important things in life which fall along what I would like to call the personal development spectrum...
Physical Fitness / Health
This is the 3rd year or so that I've took up a variant of the slow carb diet that was made popular by Tim Ferriss' the Four Hour Body, and that lifestyle is something that has kept me going, given its inherent structure and the timed weekly cheat day(s) on the weekend. This year, I added a bit more intensity to the physical side of things by increasing and sustaining my mix of kettle bells and body weight HIIT workouts. I also did manage to gain some exposure to different techniques utilized in developing sustained strength through a mixture of interesting podcasts, books and the great internet of things.
It was great to see some results even though I have put on a tad more weight (or muscle as I'll like to think ;) ). I feel stronger, fitter and less lethargic in general even though I thought my cortisol levels had increased year on year due to the more stressful work environment. A small vindication event came through my yearly IPPT test, where I somehow managed to snag all of the S$500 placed by the SGP government on the table and took GOLD for the first time in my life, running a 10 year PB for 2.4km without even doing any specific run training like I used to execute leading up to the test.
Guess the HIIT workouts and kettle bell usage really did contribute to a increased base level of fitness that translated into those results. I guess one marker of encouragement on that HIIT training surfaced briefly back in Dec 2014, when I managed to do clock 2hr 20 min on my half marathon (21km) split into the full marathon (42km) without adequate run training in the period of 3 months heading to the marathon (hurt my ribs playing football). But I crashed and burned soon after and had to limp my way to the finish line, which was an absolute fucking nasty grit building exercise...
Towards the 2nd half of this year, I started learning a form of martial arts (think Aikido, Jujitsu, Krav Maga), and this looks set to continue on a weekly / bi-weekly basis until next year. Content that this adds a bit more variety to physical training and fitness, whilst adding what may seem like a potentially useful skill in the event something might go wrong. Training is pretty intense, with repeated drills on a couple of maneuvers, followed by an all out HIIT session which incorporates those moves towards the end. But boy does it feel good to let it all out on the gym floor, and sometimes on the punching bag. By the way, it's actually not easy to make the punching bag move consistently in reaction to the punches you are landing on it, which I thought would be interesting to note.
On this front, the thing which I felt I could have done much better would be to exercise restraint on the intensity and number of times I perform a workout. Sometimes I do a bit too much (double sessions in one day followed by a major one within 24 hours after... yes lonely Saturdays I am looking at you) and don't provide my ageing body with adequate rest, which leads to insane cortisol levels, overburdening the immune system, causing increased allergic response and subsequently a full blown cold / flu / sinus infection / fever. I think I've fall sick about 4 times over the course of 2015 and those bouts required a course of antibiotics, which isn't good. So moderation and taking it easier on myself might be something worth exploring. Also, I need to pay more attention to what I am eating and be more disciplined in not only sticking with the slow carb lifestyle, but also to be more mindful of what kind of protein and fat I put into my body.
Mental Fitness / Development
This is not quite mental fitness per say, but more of developing and growing the mind. In Feb this year, I spent some time taking up meditation and subsequently attended a couple of weekend workshops and classes over the course of the year. What started out as an experiment through meditation apps (great effect of technology) worked out to be something I hold quite dear at present, as I feel that it does provide me with enormous intangible benefits that perhaps warrants another post by itself. Anyhow, although I'm experiencing some sort of lull and certain obstacles doing daily meditation practice presently, I do try to make an effort to sit for about 20 plus minutes daily after I wake, which helps to set my day right. Extremely grateful to have like-minded close friends that provided support and knowledge on meditation that formed the basis of my meditation journey this year.
In a similar vein, I've also started a gratefulness journal for about 6 months plus or so now where I'll pen in three things I'm grateful for in the morning whilst on the way to work. I probably missed about 10% of those mornings (mostly on weekends probably because of reasons for which you should have gathered a good guess by now...), but I do feel that it helps to put my mind in perspective when I begin my day.
It was also a goal of mine in 2015 to start and maintain a blog where I can pen, distill and share my thoughts with the general populace, but more of a medium to express myself, note how I'm feeling at different stages of life, which may be useful for future endeavors. This isn't the prettiest blog, nor the most frequently updated one, but I think I did generally fine here, and this would be something I look forward to continue on a more frequent basis over the course of next year.
On sharing, I've also set up an informal book club where I'll share articles, books and information that I find useful with friends and family. I've probably sent out about more than 15 emails this year, which puts the frequency at once a month or so. I do get replies from friends who share their thoughts and recommendations on other books, which helps to develop my mental network.
I find reading a great form of pleasure and mode of personal development. This year I must have read an estimated close to 30 books, some of which were re-read. However, genres were pretty limited to philosophy, religion (meditation), mental development, biographies and self improvement. Would probably share my top finds of the year in a separate post, if it warrants so.
I think one thing I could have probably done better would be to go deeper into the books I have read, instead of just thumbing through and taking notes using Google Keep on my phone. You know, like really assimilate and make use of the information instead of just scratching the surface. At least that what it feels like to me, that I'm doing more of the latter. Another couple of things would be to do more break through events in terms of mental development. Say like a boot camp or meditation retreat, a tough sporting event to instill mental grit, or even undertaking a tough task such as the CFA Level 3 (oh boy I've been putting this on the backburner for years...), which would take the mind to another level.
To be continued in Part 3.