My Fitness Apps & Tools

I’ve been using Nike+ Run app for many years now. My first logged run was probably back in 2012 and I’ve accumulated 700+ miles so far. That’s as if you ran from Manhattan to Chicago! I think it just comes to show every little thing you do adds up to a lot in the long run.

Its functionalities are pretty basic. You need to enable location though for the most accurate results, so if you worry about the app logging where you are, you should probably avoid using it. Using GPS, it tracks where you are at any given time. From that, it calculates the pace based on total distance travel and time. It shows your route on a map, which is like taking a run through memory lane.

There’s a voiceover you can customize to say how long (distance) you’ve ran, your pace, how close to your goal you are (if you set a length or distance goal). If you’re playing music, the music would be paused during the voiceover, which I don’t like.

They’ve added other features to it. I like the badges you earn based on the length, frequency and distance of your runs. You can also connect with friends and get inspired.

I also own a Fitbit, the Fitbit Alta HR.  It can track

  • Number of steps you take in a day
  • Calories burnt
  • Number of minutes you’re active (above resting heart rate)
  • Distance traveled
  • Number of hours slept (and how well)

I actually purchased in place of a watch. It does display time and date along with other metrics mentioned above. For me, it’s really fun to check my heart beat at any given time, especially during workouts.

So all the information is recorded in the Fitbit App, which comes with a dashboard, composed of separate widgets for each of its functionalities. I can drill into the widgets and get more info.

The app also have nutrition logging and calculates calorie intake. I don’t really do it, but it would help whoever uses it to become more aware and reduce overeating.

Last fun note, when I combine the Fitbit App and Nike+ Run App together (yes, I wish there was an app that combined everything for me), I can see a side-by-side view of my heart rate and the run.

At the end of the day, these are only tools. The main driver is yourself, it takes practice to get better. Also, everyone is different, so do/use whatever works for you. But if you ask me, these two things are awesome and I would recommend it to anyone looking to get fit.

Happy running!


Achieve 16% Body Fay – Day 101

It’s been a little over 2 weeks, so I wanted to do an update on my get-fit journey. I’m on day 101 and have yo-yo’ed back up to 22.8% body fat. Boo! Full disclosure, I’ve been pretty lenient with myself in the food arena so I’m not surprised. That’s why people day the transformation happens in the kitchen, not the gym. I really haven’t been working out less, in fact, I’ve been running more than before. I’m pretty convinced I really need to invoke willpower in the eating battles in order to get to my goal.

Oh well, tomorrow is another day. I just need to keep going and not give up! 🙂

Achieve 16% Body Fat – Day 84

2 weeks have gone by since I posted the last video on here. I’m still chugging along on my year-long journey to get fit. You can follow along with me on YouTube if you’re doing the same thing and feel it would be helpful to have a “partner”.

Unlike others who show miraculous improvements in a short amount of time, my journey is slow and full of setbacks. I do think I face a lot of the same issues most people face when it comes to losing body fat. When it feels like 1 step forward and 2 steps back, I get very demotivated.

Something I remembered from my readings is,

You need both motivation and volition, or willpower. One without the other will result in failure.

Just because you’re motivated to lose weight, doesn’t mean you can unless you have the willpower to not eat that slice of pizza.

So I need to constantly will myself to keep my eyes on the goal, and I think making these videos and writing blog posts help. If I feel like someone is watching, even if no one is, then I feel accountable and empowered. I wonder if that’s how most people think and I wonder what methods others have used to accomplish their goals.

What do you do to motivate yourself? How strong is your willpower? Did you fail and why?

If you’re reading, leave a comment, even if it’s anonymous. It’s a step forward to admit failure and find another path.

The Defining Decade – My Takeaways

My first reaction after I finished reading was,

Man, I wish I read this book when I was in my early 20s instead of now. 

Doctor Meg Jay couldn’t have done a better job describing who we are in our 20s than her book “The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of it”. It’s like she’s in my head all these years. Thoughts like,

I should really live it up now, I’m never going to get the same freedom and fun. This is bad for me, but it’s not like I care about a few extra year when I’m 90.


The time you have today spent alone, could be time you wish you had spent with your spouse, kids, and grandkids in the future.

OMG. That’s it.

So aside from getting in my head, she makes a lot of really good points. You can hear quick highlights in her TED Talk video.

But if the video got you curious, I highly recommend you buy/rent her book. Her stories are heart-felt and relatable, which make the book a really fast and fun read. Don’t put this off, go read it today and start thinking differently!

Thanks for reading!


How I Try to Be Less Well “Rounded”

Yesterday was Mid-Autumn Festival 中秋节 and the significance behind this holiday, like every other Chinese holiday I celebrate, is family. We have a family meal together and eat mooncakes.

Last night, I worked alongside my mother to craft these delicate mooncakes filled with homemade red bean paste, pine nuts and salty duck eggs, surrounded by a green tea mochi skin. My American coworkers were mind-blown by the sweet savory aspect and found it undoubtedly delicious. Score. Perhaps this will be our new tradition.

All that mooncake is bound to add a few inches to my waist, but oh well, that’s what the holidays are for right? To get nice and round on the inside and bundled tight on the outside by our winter coats.

On the other hand, I’m trying to lose fat for next year. Why? It’s always been a goal for me so I thought 2018 will be the year. I’m hoping to go to Tomorrowland 2018 Belgium. So in preparation I want to get to 16% body fat. To motivate myself, I started a video blog of myself each day saying what I did and how close I am to my 16% body fat goal.

The problem with the video blog is that I have to watch it to remind myself what I said, and that’s just not efficient. As of today, I’m going to try to summarize the key points of what I say in the video to here and attach some videos here and there.

I did something similar without the video log and much shorter a few years ago. First of many started here: 30 Day Cleanse for Abs Challenge. I got to Day 24 and I got to 19.3%. I was at 23% on Day 3. I’m a bit skeptical of the decrease, especially since I didn’t use the same measuring tool throughout. But in any case, I’m following a lot of the old tips I talked about along that journey, this time around as well. No alcohol is a must. I’m just not doing any weight training because I don’t have a good gym and I sort of replaced it with yoga. I want to take up another physical activity though, like dance or rock climbing. We’ll see.

Currently I’m at my 70th day since starting this new challenge to get to 16% body fat. Read more about why I don’t say “I want to lose weight”: BMI vs % Body Fat and % Body Fat Measured – Caliper Method. If you want a good tool to easily measure your body fat %, here’s what I bought a few years ago: Day 20 of CAC.

I lost about 1% of body fat and about 6 pounds since I began. That means on Day 1, I had (118*23%) call it 28 pounds of fat. At Day 70, I have (112*22%) call it 24.5 pounds of fat. Okay, so of the 6 pounds I lost, 3.5 pounds were fat, other 2.5 pounds could just be water weight or standard deviation of error. In any case, just imagine holding 3.5 pounds of butter in your hands, that’s 14 sticks of butter. HAHAHA, that’s a lot of butter.

So double what this guy ate, but I guess in reverse:

All that took was a lot of self-control and exercise. So, if you want to follow my journey from the beginning, you can start here with Day 1 and subscribe to my channel for daily updates. They’re only about 2-3mins long after Day 1. I talk about what exercise I did, weight loss tips and other random thoughts that come to mind.

Below is the video from today. Got a 30-minute run in the morning and 10 flights of stairs. Here’s to being less round!


Do What Makes You Happy

Suggested Tracks: 
Freesol by Seven Lions ft. Skyler Stonestreet 
Worlds Apart by Seven Lions ft. Kerli

Life is too short to be listening to what other people tell you to do.

I finally realized the truth at age 28.

Honestly, being ethnically Chinese, growing up in a traditional Chinese family and then being surrounded by everything American, I never really did have it easy. I identify as Chinese American. American, key word.

While I possess American values, I am also governed by my Chinese values. I believe I have the right to say whatever is on my mind in whatever the situation. I believe in doing what you love to do and finding that passion is important. Yet, I also believe in filial piety, respect my elders and provide everything possible to my offsprings no matter how old they get.

One thing I could never fully suppress is the need to strongly consider my parent’s wishes, even when they conflict with mine. I rebelled strongly at first. During my teenage years, I would purposely do the opposite of what they asked.

“You can’t go out with this boy.”

I would go out and stay out until dawn.

“Do these SAT practice tests.”

I would play PC games instead.

“Go to sleep now, it’s 10PM.” “Wake up! It’s 8AM.”

I would stay up until 4AM watching movies. And not wake up until 1PM.

I sure showed them!

Or so I thought. In my adulthood…

That boy was a mistake.

I should have studied harder, I really had it so easy. Never a worry about money, I could focus ALL my time on skills that can benefit me so much later in life. Why did I not apply myself more?

My daily routine these days is sleep by 10:30PM and wake by 6:30AM.

So in my adulthood, I developed this this nagging feeling that maybe they were right, and that feeling is always there. And that feeling sometimes prevents me from doing what I know would make me happy. Call it a side effect of all my experiences.

“Don’t date this boy, you have no future together.”

I pushed him to the edge with my impatience and probably prematurely ended something that was making me happy.

“Come back to New York. Why are you still in LA?”

I loved California and I could see myself there for a long time. I came back after only 1.5 years.

“Why don’t you try dating other people? You don’t seem to even really like him.”

I made the man I love cry when I told him my parents had suggested it.

I also told him my parents were wrong of course and that I did stand my ground on this. I wasn’t going to give in on this one.

It’s funny though. It’s not through all these big decisions that made me come to a sudden realization of what I need to do from now on. It’s actually something as small as hair dying.

I keep telling my Mother I want to dye my hair again because I really thing I would look better with honey brown hair instead of the jet-black hair I was born with. My Mother then keeps telling me not to dye it because the chemicals in hair dye are bad for my health. She also adds the fact that when I get old, I would have no choice but to dye my hair so why not start when you no longer have a choice.

Hold up. First of all, I wouldn’t do it that often, maybe once every 6 months to a year, so it can’t damage my health that much. Second of all, if I’m really worried about not having a choice except to dye my hair every month in the future, who says that future wouldn’t have invented some technology that gave that choice back to me? Also, why worry about the world in 30 years when you can’t even predict the next second of your life?

Oh my goodness. Why do I keep letting her influence me so much?

Today, I’m making this realization.

Today, I vow to do the things that make me happy and within the confines of my principles. Because, honestly, life is too short to keep second-guessing myself.

Have peace in your thoughts. Have peace in your words. Have peace in your hearts. From my heart to yours. Namaste.