Tags: dealing with stress, health, healthy-living, second language, SKKU, Stress, Study, Suwon, weight lifting
A Saturday afternoon in mid April. In just a matter of days I’ll be taking the big language test — this time for a score that counts. Granted, I have more opportunities if I mess this one up, but it would be nice to go ahead and get the score that I need to start my grad school program in the fall.
But to be honest, I know I have left something on the table. My meaning is — the effort that is expected of me is not the effort I have put forth, but under the circumstances, I am quite pleased with my progress. As strange as it sounds, I have fought off stress and depression and the sheer feeling of inevitable failure through all this. Day in and day out, I find myself sitting in class feeling like I am the last to figure something out, or the last to recall something previously learned. Without a doubt, this course has been the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. And part of the pressure comes from knowing I could put more time in. I could always study that extra hour every day. I could try to focus more in class. I could speak more in Korean with my Korean friends outside of class. But I have a limit, and when I hit that, it’s such a struggle to push myself farther.
But I am not disappointed in myself. Not at all. No one can measure a man’s effort. People can stand back and judge and look at the progress (or lack thereof) someone has attempted to make, but only the person who is being judged knows how hard he or she has tried.
Accepting this scholarship a year ago — it put me in a very unfamiliar position. The things I was comfortable with and took great enjoyment from were left behind. Being able to see my close friends at any given moment. Going into a grocery store at 3 in the morning and shopping for the food that I know and love. Taking long drives in my Jeep Wrangler with the windows down and stereo blasting. Riding my bike alone on creek trails with a soundtrack playing in my ears. Seeing the smiling face of my niece when she sees me. All of these things were left behind. I traded it all for a chance of bettering my life in the future, but first I had to pass a language course in South Korea. I had been here previously before, but not in this city. Not with these people.
So with all the new surroundings and the pressure I felt with it, I had to find something to keep myself from depression. And that came from weight lifting. If you’ve read my previous entries, you’ll know it’s something of a hobby of mine now, but it wasn’t always that way.
I made the decision to take my health seriously. To cut out foods that I don’t need and to focus on the foods my body needs. That’s not saying I eat things I don’t enjoy. It’s the opposite in fact. I try to find foods that I’ve always loved and put more focus on them. But I can say without a doubt I am stronger than I have ever been. My endurance isn’t quite at the Run-for-90-Minutes-Nonstop-Pace that I was in high school when playing soccer, but I can still knock out two to three miles with good effort.
If you know me — or don’t know me personally — you might be rolling your eyes at what I’m saying or the picture above. But I’m comfortable enough with myself to say I don’t care. Despite not improving with Korean as much as others around me, I have certainly grown up with accepting myself and learning what it most important to me. I don’t have to pretend to be friends with someone who I honestly don’t enjoy the company of. I can be honest and express myself easier. I have worked hard to get where I am physically and mentally — and no matter what comes out of all this — I won’t be hurt easily.
I take things day-by-day here. I have to. I get myself to class. I do what I can. I learn what I can. And then some. And I always find time to do something physical every day. Six days a week I am in the gym working with weights. I have a bike here in Korea and I make good use of it, getting that extra cardio whenever I can. I try to eat well. I have a very special girl in my life who has done so much for me, and I am falling for her more and more with each day. So things are still good here. I struggle every day. I want to express myself better with this new language, but I find that so many of the tools other students use (like watching Korean dramas or listening to Korean music) — I just don’t have an interest in. That’s not to say I don’t find things of interest here, but I just have to look harder to find ways to enjoy the language while learning it.
This post has been a bit all over the place. I wanted to talk about the Creatine-loading phase I’m currently on, but I’ll save that for another post.
In less than 48 hours I’ll be sitting behind a large desk, cracking away at this TOPIK test for a good 4 hours. I’m not expecting to pass this April attempt, but I’ll give it a good shot.
Tags: Chocolate, CM Punk, Coke Zero, GS25, ON Performance, Pepsi Nex, Protein, Reps, Sets, SKKU, SLI, Weight
^ Yours truly pretending to sleep on a bus ride back from Caribbean Bay Water Park (near Everland in Seoul).
So finals are approaching for the current level at the SLI (Sungkyunkwan Language Institute). This will be the second final I’ve taken here since I arrived at the end of August. I managed to progress from the first level to the second, but if I can go from the second to the third — well that will be extremely difficult (seeing as how my midterms were less than stellar).
But regardless, I don’t feel much stress. I know my Korean is improving at my own pace and I’m pleased with it. I could be putting in more effort — I am very aware of that, but I already feel stressed enough as it is, so I don’t want to overload it. If I can do well enough to progress, then that’s fantastic, but I’m just as fine repeating this current level and fine tuning everything I’ve learned. Perhaps one day I’ll do an entire post in Korean? If anyone would even find that interesting?
In other news, at the GS25 near my university, if you buy two PepsiNex’s (0 Calorie Pepsi — like Coke Zero), you get one free. WOW. Quite the deal, so I took advantage of that today. Useless information to most, but these are the things that interest me nowadays.
As far as my gym life, things are going well. I tried to apply the mindset of my previous post to this morning’s workout. I usually save that time for cardio, but I hit some heavy chest exercises — some of them I struggled to even get 6 reps. I knew I could add more weight, but considering I was going on an empty stomach, I didn’t want to burn myself out. Everyone’s body is different and different exercises and sets will have different results for everyone. The idea of always “feeling the burn” is something I don’t agree with. Sure, if you feel your muscles burning it means your muscles are getting worked, but in actuality — that feeling is just lactic acid that your body is producing as your muscles fatigue. It is a good feeling, but if you lift heavy with very small reps it doesn’t mean your muscles aren’t getting fatigued. I’m about to head back to the gym again this evening and I’ll apply the same logic and see how that goes.
I also have a new protein I’m taking — and it is delicious. I can’t say much for the results so far, seeing as I only bought it on Saturday in Namdaemun Market. What is it you ask?
Chocolate Shake flavored Whey Protein from On Performance. So far I love it. I definitely feel like it moves through my body a lot quicker than other protein mixes I’ve tried, and it almost tastes TOO good. Like — addicting almost. The tub I bought has about 50 servings (1 scoop), so it should last me some time, but I’ve already started overloading a bit — just to see how my body changes over a period of time. I’ve been reading up on just how much protein to take in while your lifting heavy, and I’ve seen some sources say that you want to take in grams equal to your own weight. So since I weigh about 160 pounds right now — I should take around 160 grams of protein in a day. That seems a little intimidating to me, to be honest, so I don’t think I’m hovering in that range, but I’m getting well above the daily value. And I’m happy with the results I’ve seen thus far.
Now I need some pre-workout motivation. So I’m listening to some intense music to get me pumped up — which consists of anything from Rage Against The Machine to Downstait to Britney Spears. Don’t be a hater.
^ CM Punk in the gym. Punk does not get enough recognition for his physique, considering how much he’s improved it over the years with the company. I think now he looks leaner and better than ever.
And now that this post has bounced off 100 unrelated things — it’s time to hit the gym (and maybe study a bit later as well). Show. Off.
Tags: Exercise, Gym, High, Low, Rep, Set, Study Abroad, Workout
One of the biggest things I have struggled with in my gym life is the amount of weight I am lifting over a course of time. When I first joined the gym at my university after I first arrived to Suwon, I can remember feeling as if I was ahead of the curb. I have been working out somewhat regularly over the course of the year with one of my close friends at ETSU, and even though I had a bike wreck in the early summer (a story for another day) which prevented me from doing any serious workouts for a time, I still felt like I was going to grab some heavy weights and just start throwing them around.
I was wrong. I had lost a lot of power all over, but especially in my right arm (where I had to have stitches). Even now I still struggle to keep both arms equal in power. But that point aside, over the first few weeks I really saw improvement fast. My stabilizers returned and I was picking up heavier weight, dropping the bar down on machines and doing more reps. I felt like I was seeing progress fast.
But strangely, the past week or so has disappointed me in terms of the weight I’m lifting. I have been overloading on protein and cutting out unnecessary snacks all together, but it seems like my strength is not transferring in the right places.
I decided to go back to the drawing board.
I went down to lower weights again to really perfect the form and take up high-high reps. One set might contain anywhere from 15 – 2o reps — which is way more than I was used to doing.
My body is still going through this experiment and yesterday and today have been two very productive days at the gym.
We even had a game amongst all of the language students yesterday — where two people would stand on a newspaper. Then you would get off, fold the paper once, and try to both get back on. Eventually it became a matter of one person carrying the other, and I was partnered with my Malaysian roommate (who weighs probably 30 lbs less than I do at least), and I eventually talked him into letting me just toss him on my shoulders (think Attitude Adjustment or GTS starting position)
I like to think I looked like Cena there — but in reality my opponent was my 130 lb friend.
Regardless, I found myself in a squatting contest to win the competition. One of my friends from Poland was holding his partner in a carrying-position, and one by one — everyone other competitor (20 or so) had to fall over or step off the newspaper. But my Polish friend and I came down to be the final two competitors. All in all, we did well over 30 squats holding the other person until the teachers just decided we both would win.
Wow — this post is quite all over the place, but I just wanted an excuse to tell that story.
Anyways, I can tell my lifting is improving. Right now I’m currently deciding if I want to jump on the Creatine bandwagon and begin taking that to help me get bigger and lift more, but I’m still undecided. I really want to make sure I take it at the proper time and I know 100% what I’m doing.
To finish this post, I’d like to do a little plug for Lindsay Cappotelli‘s (Tough Enough III Winner Matt Cappotelli’s Wife) blog. I was reading this morning after I got back from the gym, and she had an entire post based on the exact question I had. Check out her input –
– So what’s best? High reps or low reps? Well, I think a mix of both is best. I’m definitely not saying that you should never ”feel the burn”, but just that you should make sure to include some heavier sets with lower reps into your training as well. When you lift heavy for lower reps (less than 6), you may not even feel a burn. Instead, your muscles will most likely fatigue before you get to that point. Does that mean you didn’t work the muscles hard enough? NOT at all!
I have done both and I definitely enjoy lower reps the best. I like to keep the majority of my lifting in the 5 – 10 rep range (sometimes as low as 3) for a mix of both strength and hypertrophy. BUT I do like mixing in some higher rep sets in at the end of my workouts as well. I usually do my heavy, low rep stuff first in the workout and then throw in some higher rep isolation exercises at the end, just to get a good “pump” to satisfy the bodybuilder in me! –
Tags: AOW, Barley Tea, Coke Zero, Family, Korean Life, Nike, SKKU, SLI, Super Domino, Thankful For, Thanksgiving, Tom Hardy, Whey Protein
During the month of November, whenever I would check my Facebook or Twitter, I would see a string of posts where people count the days of the month and state something they are thankful for. Unfortunately, I missed out on all this. I guess the month of November was a struggle for me to get through with classes, and I can admit I spent a large part of the month questioning if I made the right decision coming here. It was always back and forth with my feelings, but I never took the time to be thankful for anything. I missed out on Thanksgiving back in the US and while I didn’t realize how much I missed my family, I think I knew something was missing.
So I thought I’d do a post about all of the things I have to be thankful for this year. Yes I know this is December 7th (to be fair, it’s still December 6th in the US), but it’s never too late to count your Thanksgiving blessings, right?
This year, I’m thankful for…
* Family. I don’t want to get too specific about my family on this website, but I have to say just how important is to me. My Mom has supported me 100% of the way throughout my entire life. If I could ever work up the courage to ask to try something (like a new sport — or studying abroad), she never talked me out of it. She was realistic and made me put my dreams in perspective, and sometimes I gave up too easy, but she has been proud of me no matter what happened. You hear this kind of thing a lot when it comes to people talking about their family, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true for me. And I could go on — about my brother and sister-in-law — my wonderful nieces — one of which I haven’t had the chance to meet yet. I feel like my place in the world is not necessarily back home (right now) and I’m thankful my family supports me in this.
* Coke Zero. I am serious. Coke Zero.
Zero calories — and I can’t even say it has the same taste as regular Coke. It’s better. I like to think of myself as a health enthusiast, and I watch my calorie in take (I won’t lie). I like to fill up my daily intake of calories with meaningful things — like protein and good carbohydrates. Of course I mess up every now and then, but Coke Zero is never one of those mistakes. Zero calories. You can drink a two liter and get this fantastic taste with no repercussions. Sure — there’s the lunatics who say that diet drinks can have effects we are not aware of. Well I will gladly sign up as the first experiment. So far, I think the only side effect is it makes you want to study in a different country and go to the gym. Not bad habits.
* Good Roommates. I know people who have gone through university experiences with terrible roommates. I can honestly say that has never really happened to me. I currently have about five roommates — and we all share two bathrooms and one living area. It could be a recipe for an uncomfortable living space, but it’s really not at all. I hate being 24 years old living in a dorm, but at least I can live with guys who are all around my age and we all get along. It could have been so bad, but I was really fortunate.
* Twitter. Did I mention I have a Twitter? It’s not really blowing up yet — but I am a little bit addicted now. If for nothing else, I love being able to see what people I admire are up to. I know it’s been around for quite some time and I was never a supporter, but it is here and probably here to stay for the foreseeable future. Plus — Cliff Compton (Mr. 1859 AKA The Super Domino) is following ME. Following ME. What have you done today?
Eat your heart out.
And yes I see how many people he is following. But still. If Mr. 1859 is following Flying_Mason, why aren’t you?
* Barley Tea. I will be honest. When I came to Korea, my digestive system had to readjust. Let me be blunt here — whenever I would take a dump in Korea, it was like a rabbit. But then I discovered Barley Tea. This stuff … not only regulates you. It will give you some of the best dumps of your life. I know it’s a gross subject to talk about. But going to the toilet is important. And so I am thankful this stuff exists.
^ Magic in a box.
* Being a 2012 KGSP Scholar. This program I am currently in at Sunkyungkwan University is extremely difficult. You have heard me say this at least 100 times now. But seriously — one year ago, I was just wanting to get to that point at graduation. If I got into graduate school — that was a plus, but I wasn’t expecting it. When I got accepted into a few schools, I was stoked, but to imagine being part of the Korean Government Scholarship Program? That seemed unreal. And yet I achieved it. Sometimes I am still in disbelief. In some ways, it hasn’t been everything I expected, and in other ways it totally has. I don’t even remember what I imagined at this point. But at the end of the day when I look back at where I am and what I’m studying and the life I have, it really is not all that bad. On one hand, I feel like I’m wasting time, but on the other hand, I feel like there is unlimited potential.
*My Cool Nike Tennis Shoes
*Good Friends Around The World
*Mario Kart Wii
*Giant Monster Movies
*Being David Mason
I think that about covers it. There is definitely more, but it’s about time I wrapped this up. Until next time!
Tags: Airship Over Water, AOW, Exercise, Gym, Korea, SKKU, Student Loan Payment, Study Abroad, Study Abroad Blog, Workout
Life in Korea is quite different this time around. Being a student in the SLI (Sungkyunkwan Language Institute) can provide more stress than one might expect. They literally designed this program from top to bottom so a student can go through all 6 levels of TOPIK (Korean Proficiency Test) in one year — which would basically mean that person would be BEYOND fluent. Having studied Korean a bit last year, I felt like I was on the right side of starting this program, but I quickly lost pace and have fallen behind.
I can’t express how difficult it is — and I don’t want to turn this into a post about complaining, but my point is — I have to make goals or find things I enjoy to keep me going. Here are a few that keep me on this path –
*The thought of opportunities back home (or lack of opportunities)
*Being able to defer student loan payments and have graduate school (potentially) paid for
*Living in a different country and meeting other students from all over the world
*Making meaningful relationships with internationals (and of course Koreans)
*Just being honored enough to receive this scholarship
I know there are people who would literally take a life for the opportunity I have. I can almost feel the envy from acquaintances back home when they leave condescending Facebook comments (or some of the things that were said to me prior to leaving). And I do feel honored. I am trying here. I am.
And as silly as it may sound, I love having access to a decent gym so close to my room. I wake up at 6:35 every morning, do some empty stomach cardio and light weightlifting, then return at some point later in the day. Since I was younger, I was fascinated by athletes and professional wrestlers with amazing physiques — like a bodybuilder almost. I could not believe the dedication they had to put into their life just to look a certain way.
^ David Bautista. One of my personal idols (as far as bodybuilding — and recently MMA). We have the same name, loving working out, I already have one tattoo — so I’m inching closer and closer to getting there.
I have improved my diet by leaps and bounds. Just to give you an example of the commitment I am making, let me run down my meals yesterday –
*Apple (Post Morning Workout)
*Protein Shake (Post Morning Workout)
*3 Boiled Eggs
*Apple (Post Afternoon Workout)
*Tangerine (Post Afternoon Workout)
Not extremely varied or balanced by many nutritionists, but I have been taking in so much protein from the shakes — and on other days I usually find some Korean dish like Dak-Kal-Bi for meat and vegetables or just straight up chicken. I still “cheat” now and then and I feel disappointed in myself when I do — but still — I am seeing results fast. And as I said in the previous post — someday I’ll share the pics.
And yes I am drinking a bit here in Korea. A “light” beer or two after a stressful day of this Korean bootcamp never killed anyone, and I make sure to work it off in the morning.
So I realize this is jumping around a bit — but with this scholarship it has (for the first time in my life) given me an opportunity where I can focus on learning a second language, but more importantly, reaching my physical peak. I am doing the research about nutrition and exercise. I have roommates and friends who love work out as well and we keep each other motivated. And I have an iPod full of heavy music to push me and keep me going.
So in a sense, as stressed as I am (at the fear of failing this program) — and I SO happy to be here at the same time, if for nothing else because I have some great friends and I am feeling healthier every day. Maybe someday, I finally can reach that physique I’m striving for.
I guess in conclusion — I got this scholarship because of hard work and seizing opportunities — so much that I like to think of myself as the ultimate opportunist (and cheers to you if you can get that reference). I know people would love to be in my position, but I am making the most of it. I am working towards my future and also making myself stronger and healthier than ever before. I have good days and bad days, but I still pull myself through. I don’t know where I’ll be one year from now (or even 3 months from now), but I hope I can keep this motivation going.
If there is something you really want — a dream — an ideal body — a job — I really pray and hope that you can get there as well.
And this, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call a random post without much thought put in prior, but I’m happy with how it turned out.
^ Me in Gangnam. Just thought I’d throw that in there. :P