Full disclosure! I work for My Muscle Chef and they didn’t ask me to mention them. I just like the food and combined with my staff discount, it’s a great deal.
How it all began…
At the start of 2020, I was recovering from the fallout of a bad relationship. This was the worst of any past relationship. I still cannot comprehend how I let someone get to me so badly. I mean, in the time that we were together, she destroyed my confidence. She managed to convince me that, everything that I had done over the last few years was a joke and I wasted of my time. She convinced me that I had gotten too old and for all the time I spent, I had nothing to show for. She had also convinced me that everything wrong in our relationship was my fault.
Post relationship status
The end of that relationship was, traumatic! So much so that I decided to move away from a place I called home for the last decade to be close to family. The first few months after my move, I was binge eating or guilt eating, you know going through typical end of relationship nonsense.
Naturally I had gained some weight with all my binge eating and then came the first lockdown…. I was going to have little contact with the outside world so it was my opportunity to streamline my diet and loose the post relationship weight. I identified aspects of my diet that worked against my fitness goals and prepared a plan to get rid of it.
Staying fit during quarantine, part 1
Being a vegetarian and having my origins from a part of Asia where the diet involves a lot of rice consumption, meant my diet had a lot of carbs. Hence, my first step was to minimise or eliminate rice from my diet.
Up to this point, my diet involved preparing some sort of curry and eating it with rice or traditional bread. Let’s have a closer look at my diet and it’s alternative.
- Rice & bread: The Indian rice and bread are carb heavy so unless you do a certain type of workout, it will most likely work against you
- Alternative diet: As an alternative to that, the food I prepared was a “mock meat” stew. I honestly don’t know the name of that dish, I made that up. I can share my recipe here, which is,
Mock meat stew recipe
- 250 grams of mock meat
- 200 grams of green peas (maybe frozen)
- half onion
- half capsicum
- 2 green chilies
- 3 tbsp. of olive oil
- a pot
- 1tbsp of salt
How do I use all these to make a dish?
- Chop mock meat, onions and capsicum into smaller pieces
- Add olive oil and green chilis to the pot, put it on the stove and heat it on medium to high
- Add onions and capsicum to the pot, wait until the onions turn brown
- Add the green peas to the pot and wait between 1 and 2 minutes
- Then add the mock meat
- Add salt and stir the mixture for about a minute or two
- Then cover the pot for another 5-10 minutes while occasionally stirring it
That’s it, the dish is ready to eat. My lunch time would be at 12:30pm daily. My daily lunch would be to eat this, without rice or bread. This was my diet for about 2 months and I liked it, I was very happy with it.
The workout was a combination of HIT (high intensity training) cardio exercises and some at home muscle building workouts. I can share the Youtube videos of the ‘Youtubers’ that I followed for the workouts.
And the next one was this
I was doing 2 workouts in the day, one between 7-7:30am and the other at around 6-6:30pm. I followed those for some time, started seeing results and at this point in my story, we are half way through 2020. This was also a time I was looking to get into a new job, hence I started interviewing at places.
The job search
This one’s quite strange, I mean, 8/10 technical job ads which I would blindly submit my resume to would call me for an interview. However the after effects of my last relationship were still there. I must have done 40+ interviews in the span of just 2.5 months and for the first 2 months, every time I would answer a question in an interview, I wouldn’t be confident. I would talk about all that I had achieved but with a very hesitant tone. A voice inside me would tell me “Bhuman you are a piece of shit and you are nothing”. I don’t know how, but she really did get inside my head. This was so bizarre to me, I have always been confident. I mean, I have seen people spend days building something that I can knock-off in a couple of hours. I was a straight HD student (GPA 4.0) at university and I can teach a monkey how to write code, yet here I was fumbling while answering simple questions. The only reason why I got close to final stages with 4 companies before I accepted the offer of where I am at was because of the interviewers. They made me feel comfortable and got the right answer out of me. Ohh and also, they had some fun coding questions 🙂
Now that I have had the time to reflect, I cannot blame my ex. My definition of a good relationship was taking her out every weekend, eating at new places, going shopping with her ( I hate that but she liked it so…) etc etc. You see, all those are material things, they are easily replaceable. What she wanted from me was emotional support and maturity. I can be very temperamental and immature at times. For someone my age, it’s just wrong and shows a lack of growth. Add to that I have a typical engineer mindset. Every time, I hear about a problem, I want to solve it. If she started discussing her problems with me, instead of trying to understand how she felt, I would focus on finding a solution for her. I would then get frustrated over her not solving her problems and having the same issue again and again. I have realised now that a lot of times she just wanted to be heard and given emotional support. You see, this isn’t the same as fixing bugs or optimising code to improve performance. This is a real human relationship, it’s about support. Unfortunately I could not give her the emotional support she needed and I pushed her to that point where she kept berating/insulting me.
fyi, my ex was quite beautiful, PHD in Physics from one of world’s top universities, talented and can cook better food than most restaurants.
Prelude: Quarantine 2
Sometime mid to late 2020, I found happiness, I was at a job where I loved working with my team and on the road to find some form of stability.
After loosing weight during quarantine 1, I was on a bulking program in the months that followed. I was lifting heavier and I had gained some muscle and there was definition. My gym routine would be,
- Friday – chest day
- Saturday: arms day
- Sunday: leg day
- Monday: shoulders day
I would start each session with a 7-8 mins HIT/cardio session before moving onto weights. The years prior to this with my carbs heavy diet, I hadn’t seen the level of improvement that I saw on my traps, legs and arms this time. It was going great and I was getting ready for the Australian summer. I had started looking at properties and was on track to invest on my own property,
Fate had something else in store for me. I got news of my father’s deteriorating health! Amongst other major issues, he had suffered a paralytic stroke. On hearing the news, I made an,
My father was receiving his treatment overseas, so I got a travel exemption from the government and got on my flight to travel. I was there for nearly a month and a half. As much as I thought that this would be a trip where I can do things like play games, code or do some work, the reality was different. I soon realised I did not feel like doing anything else. Dad was discharged from the hospital soon after I got there and all I wanted to do was spend time with dad. I would sit by his side all day and try to push him to walk or do his exercises. There was constant fighting with my mum and sister who had a very different mindset on my dad’s rehab and recovery. My mindset is very Australian in this aspect. ‘Out here’ everyone has to live alone and there’s little or no help, so a person, especially senior citizens must get independent ASAP. My typical day would start with a whole bunch of drama and a whirlwind of emotions and harsh talks from family of how I was treating my dad. However, I was there for a reason and I never lost the vision of my goal i.e. my dad getting back on his feet. So after all the family drama was done for the hour, I would ask dad, “mate, we are going for a walk, no slacking 🙂 “.
As per my new job, I did feel a bit of remorse for leaving my team before a major release. However my dad was my priority and no way I would have been at peace not going overseas to look after him. Over time my dad gained a lot of his strength back and could walk without support. At this point, I felt comfortable enough to start my return journey home which lead to my 2 week quarantine stay.
Staying fit during quarantine, part 2
Australia is dealing with the Covid pandemic by enforcing a mandatory 2 week hotel quarantine stay for returning travellers. You see, we are taking the pandemic very seriously over here. If we have more than 5 and less than 10 Covid cases, it’s a call for a lockdown. Yes, in Australia we like the sun, beaches, beer, barbecue, backyard cricket and lockdowns. We love our lockdowns. They are fun, I mean, why not? So on coming back I knew, I was going to be locked in a hotel for 2 weeks without any human interaction. Hence, I made a plan of how I could use this time to recover and not gain too much weight during this time.
After trying all the pre-packed meal options that save you the time spent on meal-prep, I liked My Muscle Chef the most. Having an employee discount only helps me be lazy and enables me to not do my meal prep. The thing about their/our food is, apart from being healthy, it’s easier on the taste buds too. Yes a healthy meal that tastes good but this was not an option for me during quarantine. Why? I didn’t have any microwave or a freezer in my room to store and warm up the food from My Muscle Chef before consumption. Also, I could not leave my hotel room because there was security outside my room to make sure I don’t so much as step out.
However the food provided at hotel quarantine was quite healthy. I follow a vegetarian diet which here in Australia from a non-Asian source is mostly healthy. It has none of the oil or the spices, it’s mostly just boiled vegetables and all. I took pictures of most of the food given to me, instead of attaching them here, you can have a look at my Instagram posts to get an idea.
As you can see in the posts above, the food is pretty good.
I had no equipment in my hotel room during quarantine so once again, it was mostly HIT training. For this, my routine was to try and workout, twice a day.
Workout 1: 7:00am – 7 mins workout
I would do the 7 mins workout once, wait for a minute or two and do it again. So 2 sets of this.
Workout 2: 6:00pm
Before (on day 1)
After (on day 14)
Yes, there isn’t a lot of difference per se, but I am happy that I haven’t ballooned up during quarantine. The quarantine life was awesome. I mean, it had its down moments especially towards the end of it, where I just wanted to be out. However, if anything I lived like a king, I don’t need to talk to anyone, my food gets delivered, I leave trash outside my room and it’s taken. There was a security guard outside that wouldn’t let anyone come near me. This was the life, I was living the dream!!! I mean, I had trouble integrating back into the society after I got out. Think about this, the day after I was released, it was 12:30pm and no one brought me food? Seriously mate, what the hell? I am hungry and I wanted my food. Someone should deliver it to me without me having to think about what to eat, order it or organise it’s delivery. I mean how is this supposed to work? If I am hungry, then what? should I just think about what to cook or go out and buy? What rubbish, life just sucks!!! I feel our government should do a better job of rehabilitating people into the world outside once they are released.
p.s. I have always been a “glass is half-full” sort of guy!
I am not sure whether I met any of my goals? Actually, I am not sure if I had any goals? I knew I could not build muscle or be anywhere close to what I used to be before my holiday. My objective was to not get completely out of shape and maintain some form of definition, I think I achieved that. Now, I am out, I can go to the gym and I am looking forward to getting back in shape.
I was really surprised on the impact reducing rice from my diet actually had. Also, I feel my weight loss or fitness goals are a big more achievable in isolation from the world. The first lockdown or the hotel quarantine stay. Fitness, health and family aside, then there’s the story of my life.
I thought I was only going to talk about my fitness routine, but I really let it go huh? I mean what I ended up writing about, was “2020 year in review” for me.
In this world for a majority of people life is predictable and stable. They grow up, go to school, university, get a job, get married, have kids etc. Most of them seek adventure something out of the ordinary to get a break from their daily routine.
Then there’s me, I never sought adventure but adventure always found me. The story of my life was probably written by M. Night. Shyamalan (remember Sixth Sense?) full of unpredictable twists and irony. Honestly, I think my story may have been better if it was like Bridget Jones Diary where I am Mark Darcy (Colin Firth’s character). Every time in life when I think about settling down, life throws a twist that I don’t see coming. However, whatever the case, I must persist and keep pushing forward. In the immortal words of Rocky Balboa,
“Life isn’t about how hard you can hit, it’s about how you can get hit and still keep moving forward”. So whatever the situation, remember there’s always light at the end of the tunnel so, always look on the bright side of life.
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