Unrelenting : My 100 Day Fitness Challenge

Today marks 100 days before the release of the coveted Xbox One X – the most powerful console in the world! I’ve always aspired to share my fitness lifestyle in a transparent manner, however I’ve struggled due to a plethora of medical issued that has plagued me over the past five years. I aim to document my battle with my chronic illnesses and regain my health conscious lifestyle.

I will document various aspects of my daily life on my Instagram (Workouts, Nutrition etc.). I also hope to post on my blog twice a week, once as a fitness diary summary and the other post being open to any topic that I am passionate about the moment (could be fitness, gaming, music or anything really).

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The Ultimatum : On August 1st 2018 (My 31st Birthday) I will announce my return or retirement from semi-professional tennis. I will give myself one year to try to overcome my medical issues and return to the sport that means the world to me. At least I am confident enough to create a better quality of life for myself and loved ones, and hopefully inspire you to scale your personal summits.

I admit that I have struggled to be consistent with my blog posts. At this rate I’ve rebooted as many times as Spider-Man, maybe this time I can bring it home? (there he goes with his first pun). My entrepreneurial period between 2013 and 2016 was extremely demanding, alongside health flare ups that also affected me psychologically. In a rapidly paced world and ever-changing field my ailments made me feel obsolete and irrelevant as a fitness enthusiast and tennis player. This only amplified after spending the past two months in a medical labyrinth overseas, only worsening my conditions and causing crippling flare ups that resorted me bedridden and even requiring a wheelchair for certain periods.

I want to be very transparent in my journey, in hopes of gaining your trust and support, and also motivating you to face your own trials and tribulations.

I am also very honored to announce that I will be writing for the Xone Bros : Positive Gaming Community – a podcast very worthy of your time if you are casual or avid gamer. I have submitted two articles previously this year, however could not continue due to going dark during my medical examinations and (failed) treatments. I will link my two latest articles once they go live.

I would like to take this time to welcome all Xone Bros. readers to my blog, and thank you for taking the time to read and support my cause. You might be reading my blogs for the first time and I would like to extend the warmest of welcomes. To those of you that have been with me over the years, I thank you for hanging on with me and I hope to honor you and provide consistent content this time around.

I respect the preciousness of your time and hope for mutual engagements throughout the next 100 days and beyond!

My Fitness Diary will be posted on Sundays

The Open Article will be posted on Thursdays

I hope to evolve this blog with time involving improved design and sections to enable easier access to archived articles.

I would love for you to engage with my content, comment below or on any of my social media feeds to let me know about your own goals, or what you’d like me to discuss on my blog. You Inspire Me, and I would love to cheer you on your very own goals!

Here’s to the next 100 Days & Celebrating with the release of the Xbox One X!

With love & baked fries, 
Nervebullet

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Can’t Wipe the Smile off my Face! When the One X was first announced I was expecting something huge, maybe even as big as the original Xbox back from 2001, however I was surprised just how tiny this thing is especially with all the power inside! Can’t wait to push through the next 100 days and celebrate with Xbox One X!

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Email : nervebullet@gmail.com

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How To Overcome Fitness Excuses and Pitfalls

Fitness and well-being seems to be a big deal. If it wasn’t this site wouldn’t exist and females wouldn’t be spewing the words Kale and Quinoa like they invented said vegetable and grain. Now before half the world’s gender start spamming the comments and unfollow button I also use those words. If you don’t believe me just check the @bossykitchen account. Plot twist! I write her posts! *Gasp* and you thought my wife was funny.

Ok so with cross fit, protein shakes and eye-sore leggings spreading like the plague, why do many aspiring fitness enthusiasts fall off the proverbial bandwagon? I’ll split these into three categories (Time, Money, Patience) and attempt to tackle them with honesty and applicable solutions. So to all the newbies this is finally your chance to chant Qunioa through to 2015.

ezio1
Ezio doesn’t like it when people tell him they don’t have time to workout

“I don’t have the TIME to workout”

The Problem: Life is all about priorities; just ask these new years revolutionists who are currently hogging the gym floor like it was a black Friday sale (great now I can’t use this metaphor for a future post).Towards New Years Eve we tend to reflect on the fleeting year as if a new line will be crossed on midnight. One of the most common thoughts are ‘Man, I really need to get into better shape’, unless your Ryan Gosling, then you seriously need to eat a Cheese Cake Ryan. If you can feel this strongly about your fitness on New Years Eve then you can work on doing so during the year. I understand life is very demanding (family, work, children who need a diaper change and bosses who need a diaper), but if you keep telling me your busy like the president of an ant farm, then I’ve got 22 CEOS that right here get their workouts before 6AM.

Quick fix: Look at your day as 23 hours long. I am sure you can get your sleep, work and other commitments done within those 23 hours. Cement that 24th hour for your workout and your golden.

The solution: The solution here is applying more time management skills to your routine. Do your best to sleep the same time everyday so you can iron out your daily schedule without erratic changes due to oversleeping or sleep deprivation. Find classes that work with your work timings (either first thing in the morning or after office hours). Instead of ramping up the calories by going out with friends why not make fitness a social activity by teaming up with a partner at a gym or meeting new friends at a fitness class. Working in teams or meeting like minded fitness enthusiasts keeps you committed and more willing to etch these workouts into your schedule.

ezio2
A friend admitting to Ezio regarding his lack of Florians to join the local gymnasium

“I can’t AFFORD to workout”

The Problem: One of  the most common responses I get is that eating healthy is too expensive and that it puts them off. I believe the issue here is that its often very easy to fall into gimmicks and diet myths that may lead you towards products or training sessions that might seem too costly. I must admit it is certainly scary to walk by the segregated ORGANIC section at the local supermarket. Some of those prices are so high that I’m expecting that aisle to be paved with gold soon enough.

The Reader’s perceived solution

Reader: oh great, he is probably going to say something cheese like ‘if you don’t make time for health you will be forced to pay with sickness’

Nervebullet: No not really *double plot twist** (Nervebullet is the M Night Shyamalan of fitness!)

Reader: Hey I’m the reader you can poke fun of yourself but not me!

Nervebullet: I’m sorry here is a picture of some uncooked Quinoa to make up for it.

The Solution: Now I do have quite a few points to cover with this issue however I want to also tie in the matter of perception again but at a different angle. I don’t want to beat a dead horse, since I’m actually quite upset that the guard killed mine in Assassins Creed Brotherhood so no joking about horses. I must point out that I find it ironic that it’s easy for many to claim that eating healthy is expensive however they are more then willing then to shell out a premium for fizzy drinks at any restaurant and do so on a regular basis.

  • If gym membership is too expensive, or too far or maybe you don’t enjoy the gym environment look into working out at home with a dvd. These have developed over the years so you no longer have to worry about staring at Richard Simmons in spandex if that’s not your thing. I’ve tried a variety over the years and my personal favorite is P90X. There won’t be a trainer to check on your form however Tony Horton really breaks down each maneuver to leave no room for mistakes as long as you concentrate and he even has modifications for those with injuries. One of his team members has a prosthetic leg so no excuses! Also the great thing with these workouts is that you don’t need to have expensive equipment for your home gym. Just a few dumbbells, a pull up bar that you can put up on your door or resistance bands, yoga mats and a towel to wipe your sweat. I will be covering the various products currently available in the market at a later post so hang tight! The beauty of these workouts is that they can last from 25 minutes to an hour depending on which product you go with and that time includes stretching and warm up. Some of these are great especially for people that have demanding jobs that require you to travel.
  • The healthy foods section probably requires a dissertation to cover so for now I’ll give you simple tips and will continue to tackle this with upcoming posts. Many of these so called healthy foods are expensive due to importing costs and advertising, and most are deceiving with the exact amount of nutrients that they include, amongst other marketing traps. To keep both you and your wallet healthy I strongly encourage a visit to your local farmers market. The price difference in comparison to store brought may shock you! Once I discovered the vegetable jackpot I hardly spend any money on fresh produce at the supermarket anymore.

Quick Fix: Go for a walk. I know it sounds simple and may seem unintuitive but if you do this six times a week you end the year having walked 9630 minutes. Now other then proving that I still have some math skills intact from high school *minimizes calculator app*, small steps like these will take you a long way, even if you end up just walking around your neighborhood. My awesome mother, whom I gain my inspiration and determination from has insane knee issues but still manages to go for a morning walk even though its indoors so regardless of the weather she is still committed. Little workout is better then none.

My horse before he was killed by the guard. I should have stuck with Barbie Horseriding...
My horse before he was killed by the Borgia guard. I should have stuck with Barbie Horseriding…

“OK so I put down the time and the money, Where is my six pack?!”

The Problem:

  • Your lack of patience
  • Your perception of a healthy body
  • Your understanding towards your dietary requirements and metabolism.

The Solution:

  • Putting on that blubber didn’t happen over night so don’t go feeling up your stomach for abs after one sit up (cc:Rthompson94) and one brown sandwich. When friends with personal fitness goals approach me, many surprise me at how little time they are giving their bodies to change ‘I want to lose 10 kilos by X date’. Their X date happens to be their wedding. And their wedding happens to be next month. You need to give your body time to adapt to the changes both at the gym and on the dinner table. Imagine if you stuck with this since January 1st 2013, how different would you be today?
  • If you commit to your workouts for long enough you begin to realize that it is not just the physical aspects that change. Endorphins and dopamine start whizzing around your body and you didn’t even have to resort to drugs*. Your energy levels spike up, you are more productive at work and you are more attentive in preventing guards from killing your virtual horse.      One of my inspirations is Rick Wyckoff, who runs the instagram account @can_rick . Rick battled extreme overweight issues and although he currently has loose skin, he openly describes the mental and emotional benefits after eliminating the excess weight and acknowledges that his current condition will always triumph what he once was. 

*Nervebullet discourages the use of drugs. Unless said drug is made of Qunioa*

**Nervebullet regains the following of the females that unfollowed him previously for mocking their love for Qunioa

  • Have you ever starved yourself only to eventually binge and gain the weight you lost and then some? Or have you decided to jump on the gluten free fad, only to overeat gluten free substitutes that are high in calorie,sodium and fat? These actions hold your metabolism at gunpoint due to the extremities of either choice. This does not just apply to fitness newbies. There are many bodybuilders (especially those that enter competitions) who destroy their metabolic rate by insanely decreasing their calorie intake and end up suffering in the long run. If you have a variety of fitness accounts on your social feed you will see many former ‘clean eaters’ who struggle with unexpected weight gain during the off season due to a stint in their metabolic rate. Spend more time understanding nutrition and don’t rely on fads or quick fixes on your way to a healthier you. The ideal diet would be the one, which we don’t end up feeling that we are on a diet.

The recurring theme through all of these pitfalls seems to be a matter of perception, and if tackled with more persistence and equipped with greater knowledge of how nutrition affects your body you can raise your fitness and health levels to new heights. It’s a shame that some may never get to see how much their body is truly capable of accomplishing. Learn to enjoy the process, as it is a very telling and humbling journey, one that solidifies the test of the human spirit. Being healthy, fit and happy requires you to remind yourself of your capabilities by accepting yourself as you grow and forgiving yourself when you fall short, and that this lifestyle is not reserved solely for athletes.

Do you have your own fitness pitfalls that you would like to share? If so comment box below, or tweet me on @nervebullet and I will do my best to push you through it! 🙂

Court Calamity Part 2: the super & human

Note: The following article is a continuation from last week’s ‘Court Calamity’. It infuses the events from Rafael Nadal’s summer, alongside my return to the humble courts of Bahrain. In it I also discuss the heavy expectation, criticism and judgment of professional athletes. If you want to read part one click here

When we look at professional athletes we tend to attribute them with unparalleled strength. We see them as the titans of the sports that we follow, and rightfully so, they have twisted and turned their bodies daily to achieve these heights. On the other hand their constant victories open the floodgates to the critics and naysayers to parade all over their accomplishments at the first scent of blood before it even hits the floor, be it a loss or an injury. God forbid they begin to flinch on court and we start to question their herculean integrity. “What!? Federer lost in the Semi Finals? He’s done.” How dare he not reach a final, how dare he become human again? Rafael Nadal was injured last year and he did lose early at Wimbledon. Indeed according to fashion it was easy to get on the he’s done parade, surely his knees cannot handle the hard court swing of the season? I know these critics were writing about him, but I couldn’t help as see each piece as a reflection of my issues.  My chondromalacia isn’t going anywhere so am I also done?

The summer of hard courts has come and gone, and the sun has settled over Flushing Meadows as the final grand slam of the year reached its epic conclusion. We all know what happened, but once we take a closer look at the statistics we begin to see the feat that Nadal has accomplished, especially after coming back from an injury. His current track record is 65 wins, 3 loses this year, capturing 2 grand slam titles and winning the Emirates Airline US Open Series Bonus Challenge being awarded $3.4 million, the highest one day payout in tennis history. Here is another Stat for the beloved critics, as I write this Nadal ousted Thomas Berdych in the semi finals of the China Open, attaining the #1 ranking and get this, he hasn’t lost a single hard court match this year. Pretty good for a guy with bad knees ay?

Again, again and Again Nadal with his Cincinnati,Montreal and US Open Trophies
Again, again and Again Nadal with his Cincinnati,Montreal and US Open Trophies

I’ve only been back on the courts quietly training for about two weeks, and even those sessions left me reeling at night. The pain was an unwelcome after taste that remains disguised, leaving me to wonder the fine line between soreness and chronic.

I gently place my water bottles beside my bench and begin to jump and kick my legs behind me. The gate creeks open and in walks Wael Ghalayini my friend and first opponent since July 2012. I remember comfortably beating him in the quarterfinals last year at the same tournament but my injury and absence has branded me the connotation of a broken athlete. I knew I would become a different player and I was about to find out how.

I remember breaking his serve and feeling the rush of energy fill me up again. The absence left me not only hungry but fueled with aggression. I wasn’t taking uncalculated shots, but I was playing brave. Whatever time I had left as a tennis player I wanted to go out on court and be a fighter. I went for my shots and was able to close out the set 6-3.  My wife, my sister ‘agent/coach’, alongside my physiotherapist and best friends were all there cheering me on, and I felt invincible.

Although I was nourished by the high of competition, I let the relief of being one set up linger too long and soon enough I was engulfed by fear. I remember approaching the net and volleying the ball long and causing me to drop 2-4. My serve was broken and it was the first moment where my invincibility was replaced with the realization that I could in fact lose this match. I felt vulnerable and needed to shake of the mental rust and fight off the fatigue setting in. The critic this time wasn’t a reporter or an online article but my own doubts clouding my head as I walk back towards the baseline to start the next game. I try to ease my mind as the ever-present concoction of adrenaline and heart palpitations symphonize within me.

On course, I lost the second set 3-6. Our fate was to be decided in a tiebreak. Here I turned on the calculated aggression and was the first to secure ten points and with it the match. With each win I found confidence in my second life on court and cherished each point, blistering through the next two rounds in straight sets. I refused to let anything get in the way of my resurgence and the cramped scheduling and falling on my ankle during the quarters wasn’t enough to keep me away from securing a place in the semi finals.

Me during my first round match against Wael. 6-3 3-6 10-3
Me during my first round match against Wael. 6-3 3-6 10-3

PBS’ Charlie Rose’s interview with Nadal was laced with questions regarding his absence and mental preparation required for such an epic comeback in which he responded ‘When you are coming after a low moment you know that you are stronger’. Although injury might weaken a specific part of your body, the rest of it does indeed strengthen. Throughout the swing this summer Nadal was evidently more aggressive and focused, and some might even begin to question the injuries. I remember leaving my opponent puzzled during the second round after tenaciously returning his shots, refusing to let a single ball wiz past me.

During the interview Nadal was also asked about regaining the number one position for which Nadal answered “The number one was never a goal for me, I’ve always felt you are number one or you are not, you cannot try to be number one. I go day by day and do my best and if I have a chance to be number one at the end of the season then that’s great.” Here we see a display of his humility and an indication of where Nadal’s focus is, not the ranking but his game. Those three loses that he endured this year could have been enough to place seeds of doubt and send any athlete through a downward spiral, however he refused to entertain the concept and instead he battled on. Rafael Nadal didn’t let the three loses define him and get in the way of his 65 victories one of them ending like this…

Nadal collapses after championship point at the US Open 2013 Final
Nadal collapses after championship point at the US Open 2013 Final

He can finally let go. Collapsing in an incontrollable heap on the floor his tears blend with his sweat as his chest shakes from the gushing sense of relief and emotion. Just like Murray’s triumphant Wimbledon capture, the superhuman and human side of the athlete collide to bring forth a brilliant display of athleticism and desire. When Rose asked Nadal what ingredient was necessary for all this to happen he simply replied with one word

”passion”.

My semi-finals was a repeat of last year where I beat Mo Gaith to reach the final and become JC’s Academy’s first champion, however this time my run would end there. Again we can look at matches based on loses “Oh what Mo lost in the semi’s he’s done.” Or we can see the dynamics within that match. I did come back from 4-1 down to tie 4-4, I remember being at the net where I smashed the ball away from my opponent to the roar of the crowd. When Nadal was facing calamity during the US Open Final (end of 2nd set) the momentum was shifting towards Djokovic he commented on this point “I needed to resist that moment, Djokovic has the best back hand on tour, and I needed to create confusion”. This is a very honest and loaded statement by Nadal that speaks volumes of the dynamics of battle, proving just how focused and willing he was to dismiss the inner critic and not let the ‘most dangerous backhand’ or playing opposite the then #1 ranked player to regain the momentum and bring home the US Open trophy.

Nadal's post US Open interview with PBS' Charlie Rose
Nadal’s post US Open interview with PBS’ Charlie Rose

That night although I lost, the crowd gave me a magical moment, celebrating my birthday and my warm return to court. The pain was lingering in my knees and tears swelled in my eyes during my post match interview. I whole-heartedly wished that I could have won for them after giving me their time and energy. I remember looking up at the heavens during match point and saying ‘Sorry Maryam’ to my sister who was away, and hoping that I could win for the late Dr. Khalifa Bindayna who lost the battle to cancer 48 hours before, having dedicated his life to saving his patients. But in the end I already felt that I had won by gaining their love and support.

With my beloved team (top) and below from my opening match with Wael (left) and finalist Mo Gaith during practice (bottom right)
With my beloved team (top) and below from my opening match with Wael (left) and finalist Mo Gaith during practice (bottom right)

Although I remain separated from Nadal by zeros in our paychecks and far from the sports lenses, my circumference reaching hundreds rather then millions of people. I admit that I do not come equipped with the most consistent backhand in the country, but my heart is on full display during every match, so I guess there is something that unites me with Nadal after all…

Passion.

A world apart, united by passion.
A world apart, united by passion.

Thank you for taking the time to read the conclusion to my two part post. I hope that you have enjoyed the blog so far. I hope to keep sharing my energy and love for fitness and motivate people to find their inner strength and attain their personal success stories. I value you your interaction and feedback, after all this is written for YOU *awww feel special* Let me know your thoughts, your feelings on this piece, share your struggles and injuries, questions on fitness and anything else that crosses your mind. Leave a comment below, email me or send me a tweet. Would really love to hear what YOU have to say. With Love, Mohammed

The Protein Article

Protein Shakes. With some of the questions I’m getting one would start to think of it as ashes spawned from a mythical creature buried deep within ancient wreckage in the ocean. I’ll answer your questions in more detail but I will start of this. Its protein powder, so relax.

Before you run off to any of the following…

  • Parents
  • Concerned wife
  • Insert someone else concerned about you engulfing white substances

…Lets start with understanding what protein actually is and why it’s so vital.

What is Protein?

Every cell, tissue and organ in your body right now contains protein that is constantly being broken down and replaced.  The protein in our food (chicken, meat, fish, eggs, milk, evil white dust etc.) is digested into fun stuff called amino acids1 that are used to replace the protein in our bodies.

1Amino Acids: Building blocks that join together to make different types of protein. Our body cannot make some of these amino acids so we need to get them from our food. Since these dudes are all fancy we call them ‘Essential Amino Acids’.

So about them Protein Shakes?

Whey Protein is no longer exclusive to body builders. Athletes and everyone else that enjoys any level of exercise has begun to incorporate this powdered goodness. There are other kinds of protein shakes (such as Casein) and I will go over the differences towards the end of the article however I will talk about Whey because it is the most commonly used.

What is Whey?

Whey protein is *drum roll* a liquid byproduct of cheese production. Doesn’t sound so bad now does it? Half the questions I got made me think I was dealing with anthrax. Whey is a complete protein source. Which means it contains ALL of the essential amino acids previously discussed.

Lets get Whey-sted!

Benefits of Whey Protein include

–       Decreased recovery time from training (prevents fatigue and promotes healing)

–       Increases endurance, energy levels and improves mental performance

–       The glutamine in the Whey boosts immune system function, maintains muscle mass and prevents muscle breakdown

–       Enhances glycogen storage (this is a form of energy muscles use)

–       Arginine increases your GHL (growth hormone levels), improves poor circulation, lowers blood pressure.

–       Helps suppress appetite

–       Instant ‘like a boss’ feeling when consumed in a locker room

–       Fat Free

–       Low Cholesterol (make sure you read the label from the brand you choose)

–       High in Calcium

–       Absorbs fast

Other Questions

Q ‘Mohammed, I want to take protein shakes but I don’t want to bulk up, I’m a lady.

Um okay good luck with that! Bulking up is one of the most difficult things to do. Mass takes time to develop so don’t worry, it isn’t going to happen by gulping down some protein.

Q ‘Mohammed, I want to start taking protein shakes but I’m so afraid of the side effects.

 Side effects? Its protein POWDER!! Some of the risks that I will outline actually have nothing to do with the whey itself but additives (depending on which brand you choose) and your tolerance to Lactose and the health of your kidneys.

Lactose Intolerance: However any issues that may arise from protein shakes would be due to digestive issues. This is due to the Lactose or sweeteners used in some Whey Proteins rather then the Whey itself.

Kidneys: If you are diagnosed with Kidney diseases, a high protein diet in general may exacerbate preexisting conditions.

Q Why can’t I just get all my protein from chicken or other foods?

You can, however after murder on the gym floor your body is begging to be replenished. Especially if you drink Whey mixed with water it absorbs much quicker in your system then the piece of chicken your going to have later on. I mean look at the list of benefits I outlined above. فن لا؟

Q If I stop taking protein will I lose all my muscle?

Simply put, if you keep working out with sufficient intensity to break down muscle tissue and not eat enough protein to repair then yes you will lose some muscle mass. At the end of the day you need to give yourself the suggested amount of protein intake (ill cover in the next question) and if you don’t hit that target, your not giving enough for your muscle to work with, regardless of it being from Whey or not.

Q How Much Protein do I need to take?

As this article is focusing on Whey Protein ill answer this briefly but will continue to write more articles on protein, as I know more questions may arise and other areas need to be covered also.  This depends on many factors. Age, size and activity level play a role in this (e.g. athletes obviously need more). The general recommended Protein intake set by nutritionists is the following

Your body weight (kgs)  = grams of protein you need.

Side note: A serving from the Whey protein I am currently taking gives me 25g

Types of Protein

–       Whey Protein Concentrate: This is the Jayid Jidan جيد جداً of Protein shakes. Don’t get me wrong it has low lactose that is tolerable by those that are sensitive to it and is more affordable but if you can for Isolate, do it!

–       Whey Protein Isolate (What I’m taking): Virtually fat free, lactose-free and totally awesome.

–       Casein: Takes longer to digest. Much better for drinking at night before sleep. Some are even using it during Ramadan to keep you full longer.

NB Recommends

Currently I am using ‘About Time’ Whey Protein Isolate. It not the best tasting Protein out there to be honest, however it doesn’t have added artificial sweeteners etc. Just look at that label (picture below) doesn’t make a dominant health freak parent just want to shed a cheer from joy? I think even Aliya will say OK to her kids for this stuff.

About Time Whey Protein Isolate
About Time Whey Protein Isolate

Unfortunately this is unavailable in Bahrain so I recommend the following.

Isopure Whey Protein Isolate
Isopure Whey Protein Isolate

Isopure tastes great with water or milk and I’ve used it for many years prior to switching to about time. It is available in Bahrain at GNC for about 35BD for 3lbs. I’ve tried Vanilla, Fruit Punch and Choloate. All good. Stay away from the cookies and cream one (bleh)!

ON Gold Standard Protein is available at Olympia for about BD26 if you are looking for something cheaper. I never used ON’s products so cannot comment on their quality.

Shake this!

 Try the following with your next protein shake: Vetal Milk + 1/2 cup of blueberries 1/2 banana + some of your whey protein (vanilla goes good with this) + 6 ice cubes and blend it up!

I hope I have cleared some of the misconceptions and given a greater understanding to why we use Whey to help more then just our muscles but the rest of our body. I will write more about Protein including a detailed food diary of my daily intake of Protein and how you can reach your daily goal. With that being said, don’t be afraid, its totally fine to get Whey-sted 🙂

Behind the Baseline

There are moments once captured by your mind, engulf your thoughts repeatedly. Vivid images creep up on me whilst I’m training in the gym or driving on the road. Championship point; a cross-court forehand smacked right into the net. The forehand belonged to me, and the match was now his.Taciturn in sound the soft thud as the net absorbs the vital yellow fuzz has now determined my fate, forever echoing in my memory.

You leave the court sore and disappointed, questioning why you put yourself through such agony. I awake the next day sore in places I’ve never felt pain before, I decide to shake the regret that has sunk its claws deep into my back still trying to hang on. The gear is on and I’m at the courts before 6 am practicing my serves getting ready for the next battle. How did I get here and why am I so hungry to win one? Did it really just take an Olympic match featuring James Blake and a read through his autobiography and miraculous comeback? Now it’s a life of break points, heart palpitations, cracked pavements, higher seeds, left-handers and floodlights. Ahhh That’s life within a 36×78 feet box.

Back in high school I studied hard to attain the best grades possible, however when it came to P.E. I was well below the mark. It wasn’t easy moving my 42’ waist around any field without feeling like my lungs were going to eject every organ out of my chest. Losing weight wasn’t easy, so why would winning a championship be? I based my life around training. My sleep, food and fitness schedule was all set up to get me in the best possible shape to reach another final, and this time come out swinging. All this never stopped the visions of the final point from haunting me. Years later I’ve reached finals and lost but none stung me like the first one. I was never really able to forgive myself until I reached the JCs Final in 2012.

Although haunted by my past, I realized through experience on the court that it wasn’t just physical stamina and shot making that leads you to the big win. You need to flex your mental muscle, something that doesn’t grow with the number of push-ups, but by envisioning a way forward, moving past the sinking feeling of regret, doubt and fear. Tennis is not a team sport. Your coach is not on the sideline giving you advice during the match. You are left alone in the middle of the court with nothing but a racket and heart in your hand as a hundred eyes feast on your every move; your every breathe and heartbeat almost audible as you go for a serve.

Today I look on Blake’s story through a different lens. I am now a champion who is trying to overcome injury and surgery while still motivating others to develop a healthy and active lifestyle. Some doctors have questioned my ability to return to the sport that has once breathed new life into me. Chondromalacia, I’ll give you a game and even a set, but this match is far from over.

Tennis = Flying
Tennis = Flying

Start Here

We have all been there, that first day in Ramadan where we are set on making it a beneficial month and convinced that this time around you will finally lose weight, that is until you are 12 hours down and Mommy dearest shows up with dripping machboos*1 and sugar loaded Vimto, all of a sudden all your plans go to hell. Does this version of your new moon resolution sound about right?

*1Machboos: Extreme portion of oil*2 on a dish enhanced with spoons of rice specifically designed to induce the phenomenon known as Balloon Belly.

*2size proportionate to create a swimming pool, that is if you like swimming in corn oil. I’m sure there is a new concept for tanning lotion in there somewhere.

This article will outline simple tips for starting out your weight loss process on the right track while helping you avoid the common pitfalls faced during this challenge.

Your tools

  • Dedication:

Getting in shape can’t be just a whim after seeing a shirtless dude run around in one of your favorite TV shows. You need to evaluate your reasons for getting yourself into this. The first thing I ask anybody is why they are doing this, and I make sure that they are aware of it, because this may be the only factor that will keep you going so make it a good one.

  • Good Support Team:

You are changing the very fabric of your being, or at least the blubber surrounding your beautiful aura. Therefore you need to get your closest friends involved so they can cheer you on to the finish line. So go on call your gardener and tell him your plans. If you don’t have a garden then go talk to the dude at the cold store I’m sure he will be more than happy to stop selling you Coke and Twix.

  • Do Your homework!:

Some of the diets I’ve heard of really make me laugh as they are nothing but torture and yield zero results. Someone (I won’t tell them its you Aunty) once actually told me that their breakfast was a bunch of dates and a cup of coffee. Excellent, you’ve gained absolutely nothing by doing this. You might as well have dressed up in pink fuzz and plastered ‘energizer’ on you on your way to work, but it’s a shame you will only be that way for about 10 minutes. Some of these myths are absolutely ridiculous!

Mistakes

  • Peer-pressure:

There is no way you will get effective results if you keep listening to your peers who insist that you should have ‘just one bite’ of something they are trying. That’s why the good support team highlighted above is required. These little cheats add up, and alter your insulin levels, metabolism and everything you’ve ever worked on. Working out to pig out on junk simply doesn’t work. This is a new you, and those around you need to understand that and accept your seriousness in adapting this new lifestyle.

  • Giving up too quickly:

You are going to be doing things you normally haven’t done before, so of course your body is going to rebel at first. Excuse me if the healthy sandwich you just had didn’t trim your waistline but your going to have to do this more than once if you want to see changes. It irks me when people tell me “Jee Mo, I tried going to the gym in the morning once before work but I just can’t do it”. Results don’t happen overnight folks, so you need to be aware of this and once you start, charge forward and ignore the signals that are telling you that this isn’t for you.

  • Setting the Bar too high:

 Easy there tiger. Just because the ‘steroid man’ sitting on the bench beside you is benching the weight of your bosses ego doesn’t mean that its okay for you to lift that much just yet (or ever, depending on your goals). This links to the crazy diets I mentioned above. Starving yourself is counter intuitive and only induced your body to go into catabolic state (bad for your muscles, metabolism and ends up dumping all your efforts in the trash can. Progression is key if you want to keep the weight off safely and forever (wedding vows much?)

Final thought:

Sometimes your gardener just isn’t around to cheer you through the last set. This is when you need to say “Hey (say your name here minus the explicative) get off your butt and do this!”. It is a human instinct to desire self-improvement*3, and two things usually happen when we want to make a change in our lives. We start with the highly inspired feeling when the resolution is first made, however when pressed against the wall, we begin to look nervously at the future and begin to doubt if we can actually attain our goals. It is at this moment that you need to be self-motivated as ever and keep moving forward. This is a journey where you need to distinguish the difference between excuses and results because you can’t have both.

*3grown men living in their mother’s basement*4 playing warcraft do not apply to this rule

*4 do we even have basements in Bahrain?

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