Take a nice deep breath, and run! by Thomas Nguyen

Tonight I was talking with my TT sister Chloe about running and endurance.  She's been running for about 3 weeks now, and noticed if she runs two days in a row, the second day is very tough for her.  It reminded me when I started to run on a regular basis.  I would run consistently, but my endurance didn't improve that much either.

Before I would run 1.5 miles to 2miles max.  I would be tired, and definitely out of breath if I attempted to run even more then my limit. However, as I picked up running again recently, my endurance has dramatically improved. Here are the 2 key factors that helped me, and maybe it will help you too.

1. Run Slow

I think with anything new you do, take it slow.  If you try to go all out, you'll just burn out!  Build up your running skills.  Your muscles will learn to adjust, your lung capacity will adjust, and even your mental strength will adjust.  After you have improved, jump up the intensity slowly and repeat!  I use to run 10-12 minute pace miles, but I was able to run longer distances.  Instead of dying after 1.5-2miles, I started to run 2-3 miles at ease!  Nowadays I run around 2.5-3.5 miles at a 8:48 pace.  I know I'll eventually improve my timing and distance as I keep going.

2. Breathe slow, and through the nose.
In direct correlation with running slower, take longer deeper breaths in from the nose, and out through the mouth.  When you breath in through your mouth, they tend to be shorter, shallow, and from the chest. Not the best thing you want to do when running. That's why you'll notice yourself huffing and puffing from the mouth eventually.

There are tons of articles on why breathing through the nose is so much better for you. Here are some key pointers that I've found.

  • It filters air impurities and moistens the air your breath in.  Because of that, it regulates body temperature a lot better.  Breathing cold air through your mouth will just go directly to the lungs.

  • When breathing through your nose, it lowers your breath rate, which in turns lowers your heart rate. You'll run even more relaxed, and you'll have more energy reserved for a longer run.

  • Longer deeper breaths through the nose provides more oxygen to your blood stream. The more oxygen you have, there will be less fatigue and you'll be stronger mentally.

For me, when taking longer breaths and lowering my heart rate, I feel so much more relaxed.  I feel like I can run on forever.  It's completely a 180 compared to huffing and puffing with my heart pounding while running too fast.  It almost feels like I'm breathing like a yoga master while running.  If you have ever done Yoga, you'll know how relaxing it is when you take those deep breaths in through the nose and out of the mouth.

Those 2 tips made me start to love running.  The end of my nightly runs, I feel so relaxed.  And that's probably due to breathing correctly. I even apply this to my boxing and kickboxing classes and noticed how my endurance has changed as well. I hope they help you on your journey of running.  Let me know if it has made a difference in your runs!

And now for the updates!

Week 1 Data Average:
Weight: 153.75lbs
Body Fat: 18.3%
Body Water: 55.75%

Week 2  Data Average:
Weight: 153.64lbs
Body Fat: 17.68%
Body Water: 56.36%

Week 3  Data Average:
Weight: 153.04lbs
Body Fat: 17.32%
Body Water: 56.66%

Week 4 (Last Week)  Data Average:
Weight: 151.45lbs
Body Fat: 17.08%
Body Water: 56.88%

Today’s Data
Weight: 150.8lbs
Body Fat: 16.5%
Body Water: 57.4%

Stay thin with hot tea! That's what my mom said... by Thomas Nguyen

When I was younger, my family owned a nail shop, just like the majority of other Vietnamese families out there haha.  Anyways, one day, a customer asked my mom how she stays so thin.  My mom's response was a very interesting analogy.  "Hot Tea!", my mom said. " You know when you do the dishes, you always use hot water to help cut the fat, and grease from the dishes? That's what hot tea does to my stomach. It helps cut the fat and grease from foods."  My mom actually probably said that with a little more broken english, but you get the gist.

It looks like my mom's analogy isn't too far off.  There have been many studies on the effects of Green Tea and weight loss.  I'm not going to go all out on the findings, but I'll point out to some key points.

  • Thermogenics increases your body heat, which affects your metabolism, which helps you burn fat.  Green Tea has been found to be a great thermogenic that doesn't raise the heart rate too much.  So basically it raises your metabolism without making you feel the jitters.

  • Green Tea contains EGCG, an antioxidant that helps kill and prevent free radicals in your body. This is known to help prevent cancer and health disease. Antioxidants FTW!

So try to have a cup whenever you get the chance! And because this post is about tea, I'll leave it with a quote i enjoy.

"A learned man once went to a Zen master to inquire about Zen. As the Zen master talked, the learned man would frequently interrupt with remarks like, "Oh yes, we have that, too," and so forth. Finally the Zen master stopped talking and began to serve tea to the learned man; however, he kept on pouring and the tea cup overflowed. "Enough! No more can go into the cup!" the learned man interruped. "Indeed, I see," answered the Zen master. "If you do not first empty your cup, how can you taste my cup of tea?"

Week 1 Data Average:
Weight: 153.75lbs
Body Fat: 18.3%
Body Water: 55.75%

Week 2 (Last week) Data Average:
Weight: 153.64lbs
Body Fat: 17.68%
Body Water: 56.36%

Today's Data
Weight: 152.2lbs
Body Fat: 17.5%
Body Water: 56.4%

Mr. Atkins diet, I'm sorry, have you noticed I'm asian? by Thomas Nguyen

Vietnamese Dishes Vietnamese Dishes

I'm not sure if you noticed this Mr. Atkins, but I'm asian.  Rice and noodles are staples in our cuisine.  Carbs is something I could never give up.

A funny thing is, the majority of asians, who eat rice and noodles, are fairly skinny.  Even the French, who eat tons of savory foods, butter, baguettes, etc, are fairly skinny as well.  And I think the 2 main reasons are.. portions and taking your time!

In many asian meals, only a small bowl of rice is served.  From there, there are multiple dishes with a great balance of vegetables and meat.  The main focus is not the rice, but the variety of dishes in a setting. I've had many family meals and get-togethers where this exact scenario has taken place.  We all take our time, chit chat, and enjoy the food.  That's the same thing the French do.  They take time, eat small portions, and enjoy their food.  It's also been said that if you eat slower, you'll notice how full you are. This is in complete contrast to how we scarf down fatty fast food here in the US!

One other common factor.. walking!  Asians, French, other Europeans etc, they do tons of more walking compared to us here in the States. We drive to work, sit in an office for another 8 hrs, drive home, drive to the grocery store, drive the dry cleaners, drive, drive, and a little more driving.  We barely do any walking compared to the rest of the world.

So I encourage everyone to enjoy your food, take your time, and control your portions.  There's nothing wrong with not finishing your plate of food.  Just pack it up, and take the rest home for tomorrow's lunch or dinner.  And if you are really conscientious about your carb intake, just know when to eat it.  Don't forget that carbs gives your cells, tissues, and organs great energy throughout the day.   Try to stick to whole grains whenever possible, and eat it during the day!  Why eat a ton of carbs right before you go to sleep?  It will never be used, except maybe when you need to turn over during your sleep haha. And whenever you get the chance, try to forget about your car keys and take a walk.  Or even go for a nice evening stroll.  Enjoy the outdoors, look at the night sky, and bask it all in!

Last Week's Data Average:
Weight: 153.75lbs
Body Fat: 18.3%
Body Water: 55.75%

Today's Data:
Body Weight: 153.8lbs
Body Fat: 17.7%
Body Water: 56.4%

Start your day off just like Bruce Lee by Thomas Nguyen

Bruce Lee on the cover of Muscle & Fitness Bruce Lee on the cover of Muscle & Fitness

Bruce Lee, one of my biggest heroes, had a set of abs that have been absolutely legendary.  Even after 35 years from his death, the cover of the April 2009 Muscle & Fitness magazine was Bruce Lee. "35 years after Bruce Lee we celebrate the most famous abs of all time" was one of the main captions on the front cover.

As one of his biggest fans, I own a copy of a fantastic book titled, "The Art Of Expressing The Human Body".  The book shows the progression of Bruce Lee's physical training, martial arts training, and a section about his nutrition. That section was  entitled, Fueling the Dragon (Nutrition). The first quote in the book was, "When you are a martial artist, you only eat what you require and don't get carried away with foods that don't benefit you as a martial artist".  As you can see, Bruce was all about putting the right things in your body.  It's not like he never ate anything bad, he just never went overboard with it.  That's currently the mentality that I have right now.  I'm trying to eat as many healthy things as possible, and if there is something that is a little unhealthy, I just know not to eat too much of it.

The art of expressing the human body The art of expressing the human body

As I was continuing to read, it displayed a sample diet of Bruce's.  The first meal he had of course, was breakfast.  This was one of the hardest things to integrate into my daily routine at one time.  The reason why? I just love sleep too much.  However, I started to try to get to sleep earlier, and or, make sure I wake up earlier anyways so that I can get a good meal in.  It's vital for you start your day off eating breakfast so that you can turn your body into a calorie burning machine.  Of course you aren't suppose to eat anything too unhealthy so that you can kick start your metabolism!

Anyways, it listed that Bruce started his day with a bowl of Muesli.  I've never heard of Muesli ever before.  I thought it almost sounded like some Italian dictator!  Well, with the power of the internet, I wikipedia'd it.  It turns out that Muesli "is a popular breakfast cereal based on uncooked rolled oats, fruit and nuts. It was developed around 1900 by Swiss physician Maximilian Bircher-Benner for patients in his hospital. It is available as a packaged dry form, or it can be made fresh.".

According to Wikipedia:

All the main ingredients of muesli are considered important elements of a healthy diet:


  • A diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of cancer and other age-related diseases, and a serving of muesli can contain one or two servings of fresh fruit.

  • Oat products have been shown to help lower high blood cholesterol concentration (hypercholesterolemia) and thereby reduce the risk of arteriosclerosis. Raw oats contain phytic acid, an essential nutrient which the steam process used to create "quick oats" destroys.

  • Products made from whole oat and wheat grains are rich in fibre and essential trace elements.

  • Some types of nuts (especially walnuts) are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are associated with many health benefits, including the development of the nervous system.

  • Milk products, often served with muesli, are a rich source of calcium and protein.

  • The fruits that are in Muesli, as well as the oats are a source of fiber as well.


The low glycemic index of muesli without added sugar or honey helps with diabetes control.


While Muesli can be a vegan or vegetarian dish, it is not a raw food dish if the rolled oats are heated or steamed or "processed" in some fashion, but it is if non-steamed, non-heated, just-rolled oats are used.

After one of my sessions at LA Boxing, I went to a local Harris Teeter to buy some groceries.  As I was looking through the cereal aisle, I found out that they had a version of Muesli.  There was also a Kellog's version called Mueslix.  I went with the Harris Teeter version since it was cheaper.  Now, this isn't your sugary Coco Puffs guys.  It's actually a really tasty, healthy cereal!  It's almost like raisin bran but with other great nutrients.  It's something I've tested and recommend.  So start off your day with Muesli just like Bruce Lee!

Today's Data:

Body Weight: 153lbs
Body Fat: 17.9
Body Water: 56

Keeping myself in Check by Thomas Nguyen

I've started this blog to keep me motivated and hopefully to motivate others.  I've always wanted to write about my trials and success, but at the same time, I felt embarassed to do it too.  But today, I just felt like.. hey what the heck!  It's going to be great to look back upon and see how I did.

Approximately 2 months ago, I finally was motivated to work out again.  I was very consistent a year ago, but everything came crashing down.  It took the longest time to get out of that rut, but I finally did it.  After working out for awhile, I forgot how much I loved feeling after working out.  The energy, the endorphins, the fitness high.

I started my journey of Operation 6-Pack with the exercise i dreaded the most.  Running.  I never really enjoyed running. It was always so tiring, so hard on the lungs, and simply boring.  But I came to a realization.  Just about every athlete in every sport... RUNS.  I had to get running back into my regimen.  And so I did, with the help of a little friend called Nike +

Nike + is the best thing invented for runners who hate running!  It keeps track of all your stats, time, distance, calories burned, all while you get to jam to your favorite music on your Apple Nano or  iPhone.  From there, you can setup goals for yourself on each run.  Run x amount of minutes, Run x amount of miles, Burn x amount of calories.  During the run, you'll hear little updates to keep you motivated!  If you're goal is to run for 20 minutes, you'll hear in the middle of it, "Half way  mark, 10 minutes remaining", "5 minutes remaining", etc.  And if you are struggling, you can hear press a button and your power song will turn on.  The power song is a song of your choice, that gets you pumped up to help you finish the remainder of your run.

Other great features of Nike+ is that after every run, it uploads your data once you sync up with your itunes.  You can track your runs, right notes about each one, and view them in beautiful graphs.  You can also setup fun personal challenges or with others.  One of my goals right now is to run 10 times by August 27th.  I'm halfway there.  Another challenge I'm in is with some friends to see who can reach 50miles first.

An example of Nike Plus

In addition to running, I've recently joined LA Boxing. I joined up with my hometown bud Dan.  He too has joined the journey of Operation 6-Pack.  They advertise that you'll burn 1000 calories in one class.  That claim is no joke!  The workouts are cardio intensive with calisthenics involved.  However, the biggest part of it.. is that it's Fun!  Boxing/Kickboxing/MMA classes galore.

I haven't started to really lift weights yet.  Right now my goal is to burn fat first, then build up muscle again.  Once I get down to 10-15% range, I'll probably add weight lifting to my regimen.

To start things off, I'm going to doing daily measurements.  Body Weight, Body Fat, Body Water.  Why? Because that's what my Bowflex scale notifies me of course!

Body Weight: 154.0
Body Fat %: 18%
Body Water: 56

Tonight I'm relaxing, but tomorrow I'll be playing some table tennis in the morning, and boxing class in the evening.