The Six Minute a Week Workout

Or, the Two Minute Workout. Sounds hokey, I know, but while in a train on the way home from work last Monday (June 6), I’ve read in the free daily Melbourne-based newspaper MX a short article titled Get fit in two minutes. It immediately got my attention.

Here is a quote from the MX newspaper article:

Only two minutes of intense exercise a day does as much to improve fitness levels as two hours of moderate training, according to research.

The article suggests that the workout is aimed at average healthy men and women between the ages of 25 and 35. Given that, here is the workout, also called the “Sprint Interval Training”: You need a stationary bike and you must cycle as fast and as hard as you can for 30 seconds. This is followed by four minutes of rest. Then repeat the process three more times so that in the end, you would’ve cycled a total of two minutes for a total session time of 14 minutes (by my calculations).

This is certainly welcome news for me as I definitely need to exercise but don’t want to spare a lot of time to do so. Right now, I have a 45-minute workout riding our stationary bike while playing a game on the PS2. I play a game at the same time to take my mind of the fact that I’m exercising.

I looked up the workout on the web to get more details about it before I get myself into it. Here are some links that turned up the same story:

If you intend to do this workout though, be sure to read the WebMD article at least so that you will get a better idea of its intricacies first.

And be warned, according to the same article, “If you’re going to try this technique, remember that it’s important to consult your doctor before beginning any kind of exercise.”

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Published in: on June 10, 2005 at 12:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

Baka flat-footed!

I still remember an old commercial for Combantrin in the Philippines where two mothers were chatting to each other in a park while watching their kids play. One of the boys fell down while trying to chase the other kids and the camera focused on the mother of the boy. The conversation between the mothers went roughly like this:

Mother 1 (to boy who fell down): Oh no, you fell down again!
Mother 2: Does he always fall down?
Mother 1: Yes, I don’t know what’s wrong with him. Maybe he’s flat-footed.
Mother 2: Maybe he has worms?

The ad was for worm infection medication Combantrin, but that was the first time I’ve heard that being flat-footed could affect the way someone runs. I looked at my dad’s flat feet then and thought that perhaps the reason why I’ve never seen him run is that he couldn’t do so without falling down. I didn’t think anything much about it after that and have believed the “flat-foots can’t run” theory until early last year when I found myself sitting in a podiatrist’s office.

I started visiting a podiatrist when I started noticing that I’m constantly having arch pain in my right foot. During my first appointment, the podiatrist took some measurements (shoulders to foot, waist to foot, foot width and length) and had a video recording of my stride while I was walking on a threadmill. There were also questions about my physical activity (Have I taken up a new sport lately? Nope. What kind of exercise do I usually do? Jump rope, at that time. Do I usually fall down? Yes, I’ve had several episodes of twisting my ankle) and the type of shoes I wear (Do I usually wear high heels? Er… nope. I usually wear sandals or runners. What kind of footwear do I use when I’m at home? Thongs (flip-flops). Do I usually walk around barefoot? Sometimes.) She also had me lie down on a bed while she inspected my foot, pressing on several points in my foot and asking if it hurts (no, actually it felt good, like having a foot massage).

After going through my (foot) history and poking, she concluded that a). my left leg is slightly longer than my right; b). although my feet have normal arches when I’m sitting or lying down, it collapses once I put my weight on it; c). I’m an overpronator which means that my feet rolls inward too much when I walk, leading to a condition called plantar fasciitis, where the thick fibrous tissue in the bottom of the foot becomes inflammed, thus causing arch and sometimes, ankle, knee and back pain; and d). I’ll need to change my footwear (no heels higher than 2 inches which may cause further stretching, no open-heeled shoes making my foot slip and slide, no walking barefoot since my foot won’t be getting the support it needs). She also prescribed me a gel called Voltaren to soothe the pain in my foot. I was then given a print-out of some stretches and calf exercises I should do several times a day to relieve the tightness of my muscles, a symptom of this condition. She also told me that I should fill a water bottle with cold water and roll it under my foot to keep down the inflammation.

Next, I was given a pair of wedges to insert in my shoes to see if that would solve my problem, I think the wedges were of different thickness so as to compensate for my mismatched leg lengths. I went home and inspected each pair of shoes, analysing which ones to chuck out or keep. Not many survived the culling. The next day, I inserted the wedges into my shoes and went about with my usual business. I didn’t feel any different and the pain was slightly alleviated. I didn’t feel any soreness until the next day. I was sore all over, it felt like a had a fight with a brick wall and lost. A quick call to the podiatrist assured me that this was normal, it was just my body complaining and trying to adjust to the presence of the wedges.

A couple of weeks passed and I’m back in the podiatrist office, with her asking if there were any improvements with my foot. Well, there was some improvement but the pain didn’t exactly go away either. She asked if I did all the exercises she recommended, applied some of the gel and did the water bottle thing. I said yes and she wrote down some notes in my record. I was then given a different set of wedges and told to come back after several weeks. This went on for some time with her giving me wedges of differing thickness and me always going back to report that the wedges aren’t doing anything. She soon gave up on the idea of the wedges and told me to move on to prefabricated arch supports available in drug stores and sporting goods stores. I did just that and also bought a pair of motion-control running shoes (Saucony). I used the runners with the insoles and although the pain started to fade away quicker and only comes back after several days, I still long for the day when I won’t have any pain at all for weeks or months. I was advised by my podiatrist to go back to her office for a fitting for a pair of custom-made orthotics but since we were about to move to Melbourne then, I thought it better to wait until after the move to do the fitting.

Hunting for a new podiatrist in the Yellow Pages, I booked an appointment in a clinic in the city. Since I already have an idea of what to expect and have already tried almost anything under the sun for my troublesome foot, I had both my feet encased in plaster (to get an impression of each foot) on my second consultation. The plaster impression was then used to create a pair of quite expensive custom orthoses I now use inside my shoes. The orthoses aren’t a fix-all since I still get aches and pains from time to time (like now) but at least the painful episodes are now far between. I still can’t do high heels nor open-heeled shoes and only walk barefoot for a couple of steps from the clothes hamper to the bath everyday.

I’ve asked the podiatrist (both the old and new) as to why my feet suddenly decided to complain after all of these years of walking the same way or why the pain is usually worse in my right foot and rarely affects my left foot. Their answer ranges from hereditary to advancing age (does this qualify me to be called a geriatric now?) to blaming high heels (which I don’t get since I’ve only had one pair of shoes in my life that would even qualify as high heeled – a pair of Rockport wedges with a 3-inch heel).

I guess in the end they don’t really know and it doesn’t really matter, all I need to care about is to prevent further pain and lessen its impact whenever it comes. The arch of my right foot throbs, my ankle hurts and the inside of my knee feels like it needs a good snap. It’s been 3 days since our 2-hour walk in the park and you’d think that I should have recovered from it by now. I guess it’s time for some wall-pushing exercises, pain relief gel and cold water bottle for me.

Published in: on June 8, 2005 at 6:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

Night Out at TGI Friday’s

I’m just happy with how things are going for us in making new Filipino friends in Melbourne. Last Friday, the usual gang and I decided to have a night out at TGI Friday’s at the Jam Factory in South Yarra. Not only that, but we were joined by five new people, too.

We had some trouble getting seats when we got to TGIF but after an hour of waiting, we finally got the seats we supposedly had reserved. It was okay though. We spend the time waiting getting to know the new people and catching up with the rest.

We spent the whole night swapping stories. We even continued the story swapping even after we wore out our welcome at TGIF by dropping by a cafe afterwards. The only reason we decided to call it a night was because it was getting too late. The others needed to catch a train back to the city so they had to leave before the train service ends for the night.

It was a fun night. We’re already talking about going out for ten-pin bowling or a night at the movies this coming Friday. There’s also talk about going on a road trip to the Great Ocean Road this long weekend. I’d give the bowling or the movie night a go but we’ll probably skip on the road trip for now.

Published in: on June 7, 2005 at 10:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Walk In The Park

We went to the Royal Botanic Gardens this Sunday to have a nice long walk at the park and to test our new Olympus camera. We also brought along the older Sony camera (which we recently got sold on eBay) so we could compare the quality of the pictures taken from these two cameras.

Although both produced very nice photos, I think the photos taken of the same scene on the Olympus looked better than those taken on the Sony. Compare these two pics:


Click images for more comparisons.

Well, you might as well take a look at the other photos we’ve taken using the cameras:

Published in: on June 7, 2005 at 9:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

Striving for 2 and 5

The government has recently launched the 2 fruits and 5 vegetables television ad, promoting the benefits of consuming more fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. According to their website, adults need to eat at least 2 servings of fruit and 5 serves of vegetables not only for good health but also as a preventative measure against a number of diseases.

The website also states that since most Australians already eat half that amount, it won’t be that hard to consume the recommended amount because most people are already halfway there. On our part, I think that getting the recommended servings in our diets would take some conscious effort since we rarely have fruits or vegies. Not the best diet in the world, I know, and it seems like years of consuming more meat than fruits or vegetables are catching up on us. The needle in the bathroom scale has been steadily climbing with no signs of ever going down (at least if we continue our present eating habits).

So fruits and vegies, here we come. But how to do it? Gabriel’s not a big fan of vegetables so any dish I prepare would have to feature some meat, with the vegetables acting as extenders or side dishes. I browsed through the 2 fruit and 5 vegetables site for recipes but only found a very short list. Not to worry though, there is another government campaign called Go For Your Life, which promotes exercise as well as healthy eating and their website features hundreds of recipes for anyone to try.

But wait, won’t this lifestyle change wreak havoc to our budget? Fruits and vegetables could be a tad expensive after all and since I’m not really familiar with what’s in season (and thus cheaper) or not, this may very well blow our budget. Going back to the 2 fruit and 5 vegetables site, I found a consumer information pamphlet stating just that – go for value buy buying in season goods but it didn’t feature a list of what is in season when anywhere in the site. Google saved the day when I came across the Better Health Channel and found a page featuring the in-season fruits and vegetables for the month. As a bonus, clicking on a radio button next to the fruit or vegetable you’re interested in refreshes the page and a short list of recipes featuring that fruit or vegetable is displayed. Note however that this is a Victorian site and in-season fruits and vegetables may vary between states so this list may not be accurate for other states.

Now that the research part is over, there’s still menu planning, grocery shopping and actual food preparation to do before any of those fruit or vegies grace our plates. It certainly sounds like a lot of work. I guess it’s true what they say, anything worth doing is difficult. Well, at least at the beginning.

Published in: on June 3, 2005 at 6:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

Feeling Lucky

I never really was into those shop promotions where you write your details in a small paper stub and drop it in a box so that later during a raffle draw you’d have a chance to win the shop’s advertised prizes. These promos are also called “competitions” here in Australia, by the way.

When I was young back in the Philippines, my Mom never missed one of these raffle promos when we went shopping. Yet, I do not really remember us winning in it while growing up except for maybe two occasions. Maybe that’s why I never really got into competitions. I always believed that there were too many people joining the same promo that the likelihood of winning was very slim and wasn’t worth the effort of writing down on as many small stubs of paper as you could (to increase one’s chances of winning).

Anyway, I have mentioned before that I’ve bought a Sony Playstation 2 recently. After buying the game console, I started visiting the PS2’s official Australian website at Playstation.com.au. From there, I could find out the latest news regarding the PS2 and other stuff related to PS2 like the release schedule for new PS2 games and the public message board for PS2 owners.

On the same website is a webpage called Competitions listing all the competitions they have available currently. The prizes usually involve winning a new PS2 game or a new DVD film. For example, there is a competition to win one out of ten Blade: Trinity DVDs if I write down an idea or concept for a fourth Blade movie in 25 words or less. The ten most constructive and entertaining storyline as judged by the Playstation.com team will win.

Okay, I wasn’t really interested in joining the Blade Trinity Givaway competition but I was interested in joining the Official Playstation 2 Magazine Subscription Giveaway competition where the winner gets a free six-month subscription to the said magazine. If I win, that means I don’t have to pay $14.95 per month just to get my hands on the free game demos DVD that came along with the magazine.

I joined the competition even though there would only be five winners. With the online entry form, I had to write my name, email address, contact number, postal address and a short essay saying what I like most about the magazine and why. I couldn’t remember anymore what I’ve written in the essay portion but apparently, it was enough to convince the judges to make me one of five winners of the free six-month magazine subscription!

Wow! I certainly didn’t expect to win and I was pretty sure I didn’t write a literary masterpiece in the essay portion of my entry form. It may just be a luck of the draw or that there were only five of us who joined in the said competition. Either way, lucky me.

I thought that I may be equally lucky with the five remaining giveaway competitions on offer in the Playstation Australia site. So, I put in the effort to join the other competitions anyway. Who knows? Maybe next week I’ll get an email saying I won a Blade: Trinity DVD, a private screening of the new xXx 2 movie, a Cold Winter PS2 game, a Tenchu: Fatal Shadows PS2 game plus a Sega T-shirt, or a Haunting Ground PS2 game. I’m not really too hot about the games nor the movies in the promo, but I’d get them for free if I win so there’s nothing to lose.

The flow of good luck didn’t end with the PS2 magazine competition, though. Yesterday, Raquel got an email from Village Cinemas saying that she won official free invitations for herself and three guests to watch an early special screening of the movie Madagascar this Sunday. She won because she was a Village Movie Club member (free to join) and she entered the Madagascar competition.

I thought it was great that she won because I had every intention of watching this movie anyway. And now, we get to watch it for free and almost two weeks before it’s official Australian opening day on June 16.

Later on, I realized that I won the very same Madagascar competition. I’m a Village Movie Club member, too, and Raquel entered me in the competition on my behalf. So now, we actually have eight invites to the early showing of the movie this Sunday. That meant we could bring along six friends to watch the movie with us. Since we’ll be meeting with our Pinoy friends this evening at TGI Friday’s at the Jam Factory along Chapel St in South Yarra, we’ll just ask them who wants to join us on Sunday.

We were pretty lucky in competitions this week. This gave me the motivation to join other competitions in the off chance of getting some freebies. Who knows? We may get lucky again.

Published in: on June 3, 2005 at 12:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Day at the Doctor’s Office

I visited a nearby General Practitioner (GP) yesterday to get an Influenza flu vaccine shot. It was the first time I visited a GP since moving from Canberra to Melbourne last year. I looked for a GP that will be near where I work so that I can easily drop by for a visit during lunch breaks on a weekday if I need to. In the end, I settled for the same GP clinic Raquel goes to. I didn’t get the same doctor though.

I was worried that the flu vaccine injection would hurt quite a bit but it was actually relatively painless. It was like being bitten by an ant, as it were.

But before the actual flu vaccine shot, my new GP, Dr H, asked me some questions regarding my health and medical history including those of my family. I guess it should be expected as I was a new patient. The two major problems I had in the past were benign polyps found in my colon and an incident with kidney stones. Unfortunately, I forgot to mention the kidney stone episode so I’ll just bring her up to speed on that when I come back in two to three weeks for another check-up.

She weighed me and she calculated my Body Mass Index (BMI). A BMI of 18.5 and below means you’re underweight. A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is normal. A BMI of 25 to 29.9 means you’re overweight. A BMI of 30 or more means you’re considered obese. Unfortunately for me, I had a BMI of 31 and that makes me obese! I’m sure it was just because my pants weighed me down but of course the doctor wasn’t convinced.

She wanted me to lose 15kg in all. She didn’t want to rush me though as she said I should at least lose 2kg for now. She didn’t recommend any special diet or anything but she did tell me to lessen my food intake by a third and to increase my stationary bike excercise routine from 30 minutes per day to 45 minutes per day. Fair enough, I thought. Shouldn’t be too difficult to do.

After that, she also took my blood pressure. The first time she tried taking it, she couldn’t believe the result so she tried a second time and a third time. Then she told me that I have a slightly high blood pressure. Uh oh. She then stressed that I lose weight soon or I may get some heart-related problems in the near future.

It’s one of those things you wouldn’t want to hear but needed to hear from someone anyway. And as my family knows, I tend to be very frightened at the possibility of being afflicted with serious health problems.

Well, at least now that I’m more “motivated” to lose some weight, maybe I can finally fit in my old jeans again.

Published in: on June 2, 2005 at 3:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Corby Case Backlash

On October 2004, customs agents at the Ngurah Rai Airport in Bali, Indonesia found 4.1kg of cannabis in Australian Schapelle Corby’s bodyboard bag. Corby claimed that the cannabis found in her bag wasn’t hers and that it was probably placed there by somebody else. She could be telling the truth or she could be lying. In the end, I couldn’t really know for sure. However, what was sure was that 4.1kg of cannabis was in a bag and she admitted to the customs officer that the said bag was hers. Last May 27, the Indonesian court sentenced her to 20 years in prison.

That court decision caused outrage here in Australia where a majority of people believed in Corby’s innocence. She was believed to be innocent by many people here because they couldn’t believe that someone would bring cannabis all the way to Bali when it was actually cheaper to buy it there. It was probably like bringing cigarettes from the USA to the Philippines. But then, Filipinos actually prefer the more expensive foreign American cigarettes over the local ones even if they had the same brand sold locally like Marlboro. Anyway, there are those who claim that Australian marijuana actually has a market in Bali so the idea of importing it from Australia may not be that far-fetched after all.

Others believed that she must be innocent because she shed a lot of tears whenever she claimed that she wasn’t aware that the cannabis was in her bags to begin with. I want to believe her but I always wondered why she hadn’t noticed that her bodyboard bag was 4.1kg heavier when they arrived in Bali.

Still, I feel for her. It must be horrible to be in the same predicament she’s in specially if she’s actually innocent. I would probably be crying foul, too, if I had a daughter in the same situation — guilty or not. A lot of Australians feel for her, too. However, I thought that the reaction of a few people were ugly. Ugly, how?

Well, a few ignorant individuals took to calling the Indonesians monkeys. Wasn’t that a bit racist of them? According to some radio station callers, the Indonesian judges sounded like monkeys or wookies (like Chewbacca from Star Wars) when they were speaking during the trial. The Indonesian language — Bahasa Indonesia — probably sounded like chimps talking to these people. I guess in the same token, they probably thought Malaysians and Filipinos talk like chimps as our languages sounded alike.

They also complained that the court wasn’t conducted in English. They were in Indonesia after all, not in Australia, so it should be expected that they would conduct their court hearing in Indonesian. It was like expecting Australian judges to speak in Japanese if the accused was Japanese.

There were a lot of Australians who generously donated to the victims of the Boxing day Tsunami. Sadly, a few of them wanted to have their cash donations refunded just because of what happened to Corby. It was unbelievable! It made me think that maybe these people only donated to the Tsunami appeal because it was the “in” thing to do at the time and not because they were actually sympathetic to the plight of the tsunami victims. The Indonesian tsunami victims had nothing to do with the Corby case yet these “generous” people wanted to punish them because Corby was found guilty in their country.

A majority of Australians (according to polls conducted by the local media) felt that we should all boycott Bali because of this incident. Doing so would only serve to punish the Balinese people as their major source of income comes from the Australian tourists who frequent their beaches. This does not seem right to me. And if Australians really have the moral high ground then they should know that this isn’t right (or at least, fair), too.

Then, there are these few individuals who took it a step further and wanted to “boycott” all Indonesians. I heard in the news the other day that there was this Austrlian-owned restaurant being threatened by supposed Corby supporters just because the restaurant had an Indonesian name and served Indonesian dishes. I’m worried that the anti-Indonesian sentiment might worsen and that it might lead to discrimination against all Indonesians (and people who may look like Indonesians like Malaysians, Filipinos and Thais). I hope it never comes to that.

And just when I thought everything was cooling down, yesterday (June 1), the Indonesian Embassy in Canberra received a package through the post containing a suspicious powder-like substance that may be a biological agent. It sounded to me like a terrorist attack on Australian soil (even if the target was the Indonesian embassy)! This despicable incident was suspected to be an act of reprisal over the Corby’s conviction.

Most Australians, including Corby’s supporters, were appalled and outraged by the attack on the Indonesian embassy. Not only did this incident make Australia look bad to our Indonesian neighbors and the world but it might very well destroy any chance Corby has of being acquitted in her upcoming court appeal.

I just couldn’t believe the insanity caused by the Corby case. I thought that people wanted Corby acquitted because they believed in fairness and justice. But where is the fairness in boycotting Bali so that its inhabitants will suffer? Where is the fairness in refunding donations to Indonesian tsunami victims who had nothing to do with the Corby case? How could employing terrorist methods as a means of coercion ever be justifiable?

I truly hope that everybody regain a grip of themselves real soon and realize that no amount of threats and protests done here in Australia could really help Schapelle Corby be freed from Indonesian prison. In fact, threats might only serve to hurt Corby’s chances of getting a pardon or winning in the appeal.

Published in: on June 2, 2005 at 12:51 pm  Leave a Comment