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The Best Of Hong Kong
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By Yannie Chan | March 30th, 2016

Three random thoughts by a Hong Kong millennial.

1. The five stages of giving up exercise

I wrote about working out here. I managed to wake up at 6am several times a week, for about three months. It was the first time I had successfully worked out regularly with a full-time job! But then I stopped. And I’ve noticed a pattern as to how and why that happens.

The first week, I don’t feel too guilty. I deviate from my normal schedule because of some deadlines or late nights with friends. If I’m getting to bed at 2am or later, it’s totally reasonable to not wake up at 6am, right? The second week, maybe I can get to bed earlier. But then, damn, I’m getting my period: the perfect excuse to just not move. I’m tired, I’m bleeding. I am entitled to more rest.

The third week, I feel guilty. I set my alarm early, but my biological clock isn’t in tune. I wake up groggy, and remember how painful it is to do pushups when your muscles aren’t used to it. I decide it’s better to get more sleep today, so I can have more energy to exercise tomorrow. Then a few days later, the temperature drops to 11°C. No one can wake up early when it’s that cold!

Another week comes by, and I am traveling in four days. I won’t have time to work out during my travels, so I think, maybe it’s better to go back to jogging after I return. This goes on, until it’s my period, again. By this time, I’ve totally forgotten what I enjoyed about exercising. I know I wouldn’t be motivated to jog or plank until the next trigger, like when it hurts to button my jeans.

2. Can junk food be good for you?

I ate lots of Cup Noodles last week. And, uh, I think that eating Cup Noodles or junk food can be a form of self medication. Hear me out.

First things first: I’m a pretty health-conscious person. I was glued to the TV when Jamie Oliver initiated his food revolution. I try to eat mostly unprocessed food, and I have a pack of almonds on my desk for snacking. But I have a super soft spot for Cup Noodles. I crave it regularly and I feel on edge until my urge is satisfied.

I am aware of how much sodium and saturated fats are packed into those things (which is why I eat salads and tofu the rest of the time). But that rich, delicious MSG soup base! Every bite of the tasty noodles is like scratching an itch, though always with a hint of guilt.

And then it hit me: I shouldn’t berate myself for things that make me feel good. Pleasure is important! This is an informed diet choice. I’ll let myself enjoy this Cup Noodles and not feel guilty about it.

Besides, now that I think about it, eating that Cup Noodles is a tiny rebellion against all these rules about what you should or should not eat (gluten is bad for you, chicken skin will give you a heart attack, those fried foods will give you a sore throat!). It feels good to break the rules once in a while.

3. What I’m reading

This fantastic essay by Native American actress Julia Jones on representation in Hollywood. It’s not only about race, but also about what it’s like to confront a difficult problem and figure out your stance in tricky terrain.

I’m really struck by this line: “I know the only way past is through.” Originally from a Robert Frost poem, it’s now a line I think about when sorting through problems like my future and relationships. The best way out is always through.