Tag Archives health

Yoga. My new addiction.

Yoga. My new addiction.

Mahmood and Leah after a good Yoga session with LeahYoga was one of those things that I thought house-wives and mystics would while away their time in. The images I saw on the internet certainly supported this view. It’s no surprise that I veered away from Yoga. I’m a healthy and strong individual dedicated to an all-round gym experience, through this hard work, I managed to lose a considerable amount of weight and turned my life around. What would I need yoga for?

Curiosity got the better of me when Serenity Centre, a new meditation, Reiki and Yoga studio announced once a week Yoga sessions for gentlemen with an experienced Yoga instructor. I thought I’d give it a go. What harm could that do?

The next morning after that first somewhat “gentle” session with Leah Ferrera was a revelation. All my muscles were sore – in a good way. That ache amply demonstrated the error of my judgement. Those Yoga-practicing mystics and house-wives would definitely give me a run for my money, even with all my daily gym work-outs. That was a session in humility. And I was hooked!

Leah’s considerable patience, gentle leadership and happy soothing voice completely hooked me into the Yoga experience. I started to really look forward to our Wednesday evening sessions and was the first on the mat practicing the various poses before the session started. Within three months, I gained more flexibility in my body than I probably every had. I was sleeping better and was much more aware of my posture.

Yoga allowed me to also experience much more than stretches. The guided meditation that Leah offered at the end of every session was invaluable in calming my mind. It allowed inward reflection and awareness that I have not experienced before.

I now practice Yoga twice a week and am very much indebted to Leah for leading me into the practice. Had she not been as good as she is, I would have most probably quit after the very first session. I’m glad I persevered and am very grateful to Leah for introducing me to a new way of life.

Namaste.

(disclosure: Serenity is owned and operated by my wife. I do Yoga there on Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings now with Zahraa Amini. Come join me!)

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The creep of weight gain

I’ve let myself go over the past couple of months and my weight has been creeping up. Well, I’ve been on holiday for a couple of weeks to Scotland and it was a bit stressful at work the last few months. Note that I’m not beating myself up for this. This is nothing to the 35kgs I’ve lost. It’s a wake up call for me to get back on my chosen path of better health. 

Ok. The best I got to was 81kgs in Nov ’15. I’m now closer to 89kgs. My target now is to get to 81kgs again by my birthday on 23 Feb ’17. So the fun starts again!

I’ll be joining a running club tomorrow in addition to my refular gym workouts and start eating more healthily again. 

I know that my main culprit is bread and not so much sweets, though of course those contribute. I’ve quit all types of sweets, biscuits, chocolates and cakes for over from 2 August until about a week ago and I felt really well for it. I don’t have actual numbers but it felt that I lost some fat and gained better muscle definition. 

My plan now is to limit bread intake and stop sweets one more time until my weight is where I want it to be again. 
For accountability, I’m going to report my weight on a weekly basis every Saturday morning here for me to track progress. I find that I do hit my set targets if I publicly declare them 😉

Your support will be welcome. 

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What is depression?

What is depression?

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Not many people understand depression, including me. I found this on TED that might contribute to a better understanding.

Depression is the leading cause of disability in the world; in the United States, close to ten percent of adults struggle with the disease. But because it’s a mental illness, it can be a lot harder to understand than, say, high cholesterol. Helen M. Farrell examines the symptoms and treatments of depression, and gives some tips for how you might help a friend who is suffering.

TED

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The Journey to Better Health Continues
No Sweets October

No Sweets October

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Here’s a commitment I made:

To me, October = No sweets / no cakes / no biscuits / no chocolate month. Allowing myself one fruit a day. Just because. Anyone fancy joining me in this quest?

Posted by Mahmood Al-Yousif on Thursday, October 1, 2015

No sweets October. How does that grab you? Doable?

I honestly didn’t believe that I could. That’s why I made that commitment public so I can be held accountable. When I do that, I do challenge myself and make the commitment happen. It’s 12 days since and I’m glad to say that I have not had any of those things so far, and I’m not going to either. On Nov 1st; however, I’m heading straight to DQ and getting my favouritest dessert: a Peanut Buster Parfait! Maybe even two, we’ll see how I feel 😉

The effect of having this sweets fast is tremendous though. On Oct 1st I weighed 85.3, today, well… have a look:

today I weigh 82.6kgs, which is a long way from the 116.5kg I was recently ;)

That’s a tremendous reduction of 2.7 kgs in just 12 days. That’s a reduction of 33.9% of my body weight at its heaviest which was 116.5 kgs.

I’ll admit that in the interim I actually increased my activity. I now average about 9km of running a day with an additional 30 – 60 minutes on other machines. I also added 90 minutes of swimming training twice a week with a few half-hour swimming sessions in between. So the weight loss might not just be due to the effect of not having sweets, it’s probably having something to do with the slightly increased activity as well.

Regardless, I’m quite chuffed with myself for arriving in the 82s. I honest cannot remember me the last time my weight was 82.6 kgs. If I were to guess, I would say that it might have been late teens or early twenties. Makes me double happy 😉

My declared intention was to get to 83 kgs by the end of the year. Now that I busted that level, my new target is 80 kgs by the end of 2015. Who’s with me on this journey of regaining health?

Let’s go!

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No sympathy for fat people

No sympathy for fat people

weight-chart-mahoodNone.

Because I was one and know from my own experience that the solution is in one’s own hands – and mouth – and no one else’s.

Brutal. Honest. And true.

So stop your whining and just get on with it.

Let me tell you how I got it done.

  1. Determination
  2. Commitment
  3. Sacrifice, and
  4. A vision for where I wanted to be

Hold on to that number four, believe me that alone will drag you out of bed, make you determined to say no to that sweet cake or extra food and allow you to go the extra few minutes in the gym to complete your program.

Also, again from experience, nothing is as powerful as one’s own determination to start. Real determination. When I started I was at one of the lowest points in my life and I made the commitment to change to the better at 5pm on the 9th of June 2013 in Vienna, Austria. I was 116.5kgs then. I’m 84.2kgs now, and as you can see from my weight progress chart, I managed to keep off what I lost for the last two years.

How I managed to lose that weight was hard work both emotionally and physically. Maintaining the “no campaign” is emotionally hard. I still struggle sometimes with saying no to bread and other goodies. Keeping the vision of what I want to be helps me maintain that all important no.

The physical part became a welcome habit now. I actively look forward to going to the gym and practicing sports whenever I can. That time is precious to me because apart from it allowing me to maintain a fitter body, it also resets my mood and makes me a happier, calmer and a more content person. It allows me to focus on an issue that I need to pay attention to and the regular exercise allows me to have much more restful sleep which is so very important to the maintenance of health and weight too.

I don’t like the fact that I’m going against doctors’ orders not to run, but it’s too much of a good thing and a pleasure to ditch altogether. I’ve reduced the running distance now to just 5km in 30 minutes at a time, and I only run three or four times a week. Way below my iconic Athens Half Marathon, but good enough for me at this present time. As you can see from the chart, I was able to maintain my new weight over the last two years and surpassed my supposed ideal weight as suggested by the Dukan Diet, which was the weight-loss program I followed.

So in essence, if I can do it, so can you!

I’d be happy to help anyone lose the blubber by sharing my own experiences. I won’t give you advice, so please don’t expect that. Go to a qualified doctor to give you that kind of stuff. What I can give you is an honest sharing of my own experience of how I got it done to inspire you to gain a better and healthier lifestyle.

Now off you go and start your own journey to better health.

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Body signals, and why I should have listened to them

Body signals, and why I should have listened to them

What I thought was simple enough muscle strain due to the half-marathon I completed in Athens in May, and is fixable by physio therapy, turned out to be a lot more severe!

A couple of weeks after my return, I thought to finally listen to my body signals and go see a specialist. I consulted an orthopaedic surgeon who suggested that it was just the fickle groin muscle and advised physio. I did that for a month and realised a perceptible improvement; however, the underlying problem still existed, evidenced by my inability to ditch the crutch and my constant need with ibuprofen to deal with the pain. I could not put any weight on that leg, and the theories for that conditions encompassed muscle fatigue, knee problems and various others passed on through advice from well intentioned people, including a gardener in a public park in
Brooklyn. According to the very nice gentleman, 6 – 7 pounds of broccoli should do it. That’s what he is on to deal with his problematic knee.

So off I went to see the surgeon again on my return from the States. This one was also convinced it’s a busted knee problem and insisted that I should get some ultrasound scans for the muscles and an X-ray/MRI for the knee. The surgeon wasn’t convinced. After manipulating my leg in ways I didn’t think possible – coupled with excruciating pain – he was convinced that the issue is with the hip. The knee’s reaction, he felt, was referred pain. To be sure, he ordered an x-ray of the pelvic region.

hip / pelvic bonesWhen I entered his office after the x-rays, he was looking at the film and was shaking his head. What he said was worrying, and quite surprising: “this is criminal. a rookie physio should have realised that the problem was in the hip, not the knee. You, my friend have a fantastic tolerance to pain. You have a broken hip! Specifically you have a fracture between the femoral head and the greater trochanter. It’s amazing that you can put weight on that leg. You shouldn’t. What you should do is fix it, and do so quickly.”

Lovely. I knew I am a man, but apparently I’m THE man!

What I have to do now is have an operation to have a couple of screws fitted in to weld the bone in place and provide extra support. This is obviously done under general anesthetic and the recovery could take up to three months.

Lovely. There goes my plan for a summer holiday, and more importantly, running when the season starts again in September.

I, my friends, don’t do things by half. I go all in. Black or white. And my first ever sports injury is at 52 years of age, is a broken hip! Match that if you can 😉

Well, I’m afraid that due to my history with doctors and what my own father, may he rest in peace, went through with them, I don’t take their word as gospel and as much as possible, question them and get a second opinion. That I did, and the second well know orthopaedic surgeon concurred with the first and said that I have to have surgery immediately.

Now that the prognosis was similar, and the remedy very close, what remained now was choosing where to get the operation done and who should perform it. This gave me the opportunity to get a third opinion, because that would also give me the opportunity to check out the German Orthopaedic Hospital and Prof. Dr Heinz Roettinger.

I arranged to see him asap though a good EO friend – his schedule was pretty much overflowing. I’ve been in this hospital before, in fact we produced two films here, one specially for the German Hospital through a production for Venture Capital Bank many years ago.

Frances and I waited in Prof. Heinz’s office. When he walked in, he saw the x-ray on the light-box and without pre-amble said: “we have to operate immediately.” He did take the time to explain the options and recommended implants as a remedy like the first two did. I need now to make a decision as to where I would rather have the operation performed, and which surgeon should have the honour to undertake it.

I wasn’t comfortable to go to the first surgeon as he neglected to take an evidently needed x-ray/MRI to start with which could have saved me weeks of agony. Going to the second hospital wasn’t an option either as it’s not covered by my insurance, and they’re having staff problems; they were on strike for back pay. That left me with the German Orthopaedic as the choice. Unfortunatley they too aren’t covered by my insurance, but at least they agreed to part cover the bills, leaving me to pay fo the major portion. As I’m writing this in my hospital bed, sans pain for the first time in weeks, I don’t mind that. At least the leg is fixed, and I’ll be on a good aod to recover from this episode.

The moral of the story is this: listen to your body. Don’t just go for the goal, but maintain a sustained process. It’ll take time, but you’ll reach there in better health. Don’t rush things and seek medical and experienced advice.

My goal was to run a half marathon and train for it in the shortest time possible, this while going on a strict regime to lose a heap-load of weight just as fast. Those two goals trumped the journey I should have concentrated on, which is to gain a happiness through health. That was my strategic objective. But, enthusiasm took the better of me. It took me just three months to lose more than 25 kilograms, 33kgs when I was at the half-marathon’s starting line. That was eleven months since I started the weight loss regime.

As to the running, I just started running at the gym and then outside without much of a plan. I did realise that I have to follow a proper program to attain the necessary experience and stamina to run a marathon, so I downloaded an app to help me with that. But, the app I downloaded unwittingly was for a full marathon training, rather than a half marathon. By the time I discovered that error, I thought I might as well train for the full marathon anyway. That was stupid. So I went from 0km to 21km in about four months, all the while training for a fulll 42km.

Athens Half Marathon, Mahmood Al-Yousif running with Marsha Ralls

I did finish the half-marathon though and got a decent finish time for a first timer; however, I did feel something “give” while climbing that final hill to the finish line – the hill of death. I didn’t stop and never thought of doing so. I crossed the line, to one of the proudest moments of my life.

The down-side was that I didn’t recognise the signal my body was giving. I thought that after running 21 kilometers, that was just muscle strain. The way that I dealt with it was thinking that them muscles needed loosening up, so a couple of days after the marathon I went for a 5km run, followed by various gym sessions over the proceeding days and weeks. My legs were screaming for help. I offered them the help not based on professional advice, which I should have immediately sought, but on what I thought was helpful. As I did not have any experience in the field, I should not have depended on that alone.

With this experience I’ve learnt more valuable life lessons: Quick is not always better; attune to your body’s signals and seek professional advice and finally, join a special interest group and seek their experience and expertise. Much like joining the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation to help with my entrepreneurial development from my peers, I need to join a running club to gain from their expeience and safely develop as a runner.

Hindsight is always a marvelous thing of course. What I want to do with mine is get this leg fixed up and carry on with my quest to gain a happy and healthy life, but attain those goals through good methods and consideration, rather than assume I’m doing the right thing.

Maybe also it would be helpful to just have to remember that I’m 52 and not 25!

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Weight Target Reached

Weight Target Reached

Weight Target Reached

Starting from 116.5 kgs on 9 June 2013, I’m at 91 kgs today. That’s a reduction of 25.5 kgs in weight – or 56 lbs or 4 stones for those still holding on to past glories 😉 I’ve also gone down from wearing size 48″ trousers to 36″. Not too shabby!

The regime I followed was a modified Dukan Diet. The modified bit is that unlike what they suggest in the diet, I did count calories and MyFitnessPal helped me tremendously along with the strict food and exercise regimes I adopted.

The essence of the story is this: I feel healthier and more confident (I know, hard to believe!) and am determined to maintain this weight, at least for now. The past four months have not been easy and I didn’t expect them to be. I’ve given up a lot of what I love in food and drink in preference for a “new me” and I like what I have arrived at now.

Yes, I’ve reset the target now down to 85 kgs; however, the time I am giving myself to arrive at the new weight is much more forgiving: 6 months. That’s about a kilo a month which I know I can achieve.

Just felt I would share my celebrations with you. Hopefully it will inspire some who are in a similar situation.

Eid Mubark!

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Yoga, first experience

Yoga, first experience

While touring the grounds of The Leela Palace Hotel in Mumbai where I stayed, I chanced upon Racchana who observed me admiring some of their flowers, and we started to chat. I got to know that she is the hotel’s Yoga guru and does free lessons for guests from 7 – 9 am. I asked her a few questions about yoga which she fully answered, and also demonstrated some of the basic and not so basic poses. She even led me through my very first yoga pose and I can tell you, this stuff is hard!

A few days later, today in fact, I had a full hour’s lesson with her. My very first, and I feel stretched, a little sore and happy that I took this first step. I fully intend to take it up when I get back home…

Recommendations welcome!

Enjoy the video and I hope that you too get inspired by Racchana as I have.

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[NSFW] MEN: STOP SEARCHING. G-Spot doesn’t exist!

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The illustrious and ancient fount of knowledge, the BBC, reports that scientists could not find the G-Spot even after frisking 1,800 women, so what the hell chance do we mortals have?

This issue has been used to intentionally confounded us – the male species – for centuries. So we’re really happy to finally put this slippery issue to rest. No longer will we have to be lied to, and yes, bullied by pseudo-psychotic-psychologists and so called “health experts”, and worst of all, the greatest satan of them all which thrusts these thoughts into women’s psyche and support them to continue bullying us.

We now know better thanks to science.

So in payment for centuries of abuse, we men feel that it’s OUR turn to dictate the terms. So females listen up:

  • No cuddling No more. Not under any circumstances.
  • When we’re done. You’re done. Deal with it.
  • You shall be turned on by us just looking at you. It works for us.
  • No erogenous zones beyond an area of 10 square inches.
  • Erogenous zones must henceforth be clearly marked.
  • A-la St. Clinton: Oral sex is not real sex. So either learn to enjoy it or condone its vigorous pursuit
  • “Sex on the brain” is not a bad syndrome, it’s a sign of a healthy human being. You are highly encouraged to try it some time.
  • Rolling over and going to sleep shall be an acceptable behaviour and shall suffer no ill consequence.
  • Having multiple sexual partners shall be encouraged (exclusively for men of course, as this is our training regime to keep us sharp, ready and willing to please you.)

These are just some of the new rules-in-progress. I’m sure my fellow males will help add some more pointers for you to acquiesce to. If you feel aggrieved by any of the aforementioned or forthcoming points which become negated, then that shall not invalidate any of the others, which shall continue to stand as is.

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