Investing in things that count


Investing_small-changesSometimes it is not what we want that bears the richest blessings, but where we are sent that makes the difference.

THERE must be moments in our life when we pass by, say, a high-end store, and wish that we could pick up the latest electronic gadget without even thinking about the price.

The young father who wants the best education for his son may be convinced that the correct route is through a private or international school, if only he has a million ringgit to spare.

Day by day, we may wish for a lot of things. But aren’t we thankful that we do not always get our prayers answered?

The August month on the calendar in my office has a poem supposedly written by an unknown Confederate soldier. Titled “Prayers and Answers”, it includes the following verses:

“I asked for strength, that I might achieve. I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey.
“I asked for riches, that I might be happy. I was given poverty, that I might be wise.

“I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men. I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.”

A friend gave up a nice job in the city to “Teach for Malaysia” in a rural school. The stories she shares regularly on Facebook are truly touching.

The first time I met her was at Fraser’s Hill some years back, when I was one of the facilitators at a writers’ camp.

While the purpose was to teach them to write well, I also told them that I would not expect them to eventually become journalists.

What is more important, I said, is to have a passion for life and a desire to make a difference wherever one is placed.

This friend did go through a stint in journalism but I now see her blooming in her real calling, which is to teach – not to the children of the rich and famous at some private school – but children who still struggle with the basic necessities of life.

The skills she honed as a communicator have allowed her to be practical and creative in teaching these children even the simplest of words. Here is a recent example:

  •   She draws a picture of a globe.
  •   Students: World!
  •   Teacher: Very good! Another word that starts with “E”? We learned it recently.
  •   Student: Earth!
  •   Teacher: Ada nampak telinga dalam perkataan ini? (Do you see another word in ‘Earth’?)
  •   Student: EAR! Ear! Ear!
  •   Teacher: *smiling ear to ear* Thank you, Class!

I should add that this is a Form One class whose standard of English has recently been diagnosed at Level 1.
It is a long haul, certainly, but my friend perseveres.

Meanwhile, another friend is doing something similar among the refugee community somewhere in Chad. Back on home leave, she showed me a clip of the children learning the alphabet by writing on the sand of an outdoor classroom.

These two young women gave up the comfort of home to venture into places where there are no high-end stores and where richness is definitely not measured by material possessions.

In places like this, strength, power and riches do not matter. Faith, hope and love are what really count.

SUNDAY STARTERS BY SOO EWE JIN

> Soo Ewe Jin (ewejin@thestar.com.my), in this season of Merdeka, salutes the many people, unknown and unseen, making a differenc

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Let children be children


Parents have to be more cautious and keep a close eye on their kids to protect them from negative influences.

Naughty Teddy

Naughty teddy: A scene from Ted. Despite featuring a cuddly teddy bear, this is not a movie you should expose your kids to.

AFTER a hectic couple of weeks full of shows, I spent last weekend celebrating friendships, both old and new. I had a massive BBQ party for friends who had helped in preparing for the shows and projects to thank them all for their support, friendship and big hearts. The party was also a farewell of sorts for a wonderful and dear old friend of mine.

Due to my busy schedule, I’ve been missing out on much needed quality time with the important people in my life. As with all parties, not everyone was able to make it, but this didn’t prevent me from having a blast. It was fantastic to see everyone enjoying themselves, chatting, drinking and eating. Of course, saying farewell to my dear friend was quite heart-wrenching, but we still managed to share many laughs. Even my children enjoyed the evening playing with their old friends and making new ones.

Aside from the usual party banter and gossip about people we knew, lots of memories were relived; we caught up with current news and just generally had fun. One topic that seemed to dominate the evening was how fast our children were growing up. This got me wondering, whose fault is it really? Is it because of the advanced technologies they are exposed to these days … or rather the fault of parents?

I have heard horrifying stories of under-aged children – sometimes as young as 12! – who are having sex, often without protection, and their parents are OK with this behaviour. Some European friends say this is pretty common for them. In fact, research has shown that over the past 50 years, the number of teenage girls who are sexually active has quadrupled! Unfortunately, this kind of behaviour is no longer contained within the West and becoming more rampant even here in Asia. Personally, I cannot begin to understand this but it seems more people have begun to accept that it is normal for teens to be sexually active.

A while back, I was watching a documentary about traditional weddings, which highlighted arranged marriages involving children, especially among minority tribes. This documentary shared the story of four sisters who got married at the same time, the youngest of whom was only four! According to some traditions, if a boy of that age isn’t married yet, he will bring shame to his family. It’s sad to think that this practice continues to exist in this day and age.

I know for a fact that my grandparents had an arranged marriage. Grandma used to tell me how many of her friends back then were arranged to be married even before they were born. But circumstances were different then.

I guess in certain communities where marriage is seen as economic security for girls, things are different. But in societies like ours, where girls have every opportunity to create their own financial security, children are still maturing too quickly. And I feel both parents and technology have played a role.

Technology has become so accessible, allowing kids to be exposed to sites they shouldn’t be viewing. And parents are not monitoring what their children view online. I have even heard of parents watching pornographic movies in the same room as their young children! Children these days are smart and they learn fast.

They are also impressionable, and being exposed to this sort of film would make them think this behaviour is acceptable and that it’s okay for them to imitate it. Scary!

Even movies these days expose young children to unsuitable words and images. Stories that seem innocent enough for young kids are often laced with topics that are too mature for them. Take the movie Ted, which was released not too long ago. I actually contemplated taking my children to watch it because I was under the impression, from the posters that I had seen, that it was simply about a young boy and his teddy bear.

Luckily, I went online to check out the trailer and reviews. The movie was full of obscenities and actions that I definitely would not have wanted my young children to watch.

So, yes, in a way the Internet is great as it allows us to access useful information so much easier and faster. However, if not used properly, it can open Pandora’s box of elements we want to keep away from our kids. I was told by a friend that even adding filters to websites is not completely fool-proof. There seems to be no way around this one – we are living in a very advanced world where all sorts of data, including the unsavoury kind – have become very accessible. This makes the world a very scary place indeed, especially in terms of young children and teenagers.

Even TV channels, such as MTV, present girls in revealing clothes and seductive dance. Too many little girls will therefore think that dressing and behaving in that fashion is “cool”. It makes me sick when I see so many girls these days acting much more mature than they are. I also feel sorry for our children, the future leaders of our world, to have been injected with such unnecessary images in their heads from such a young age.

I’m not sure how we can help change this world to be a better place for our children. It will definitely be a tough mission, but it’s vital that we try anyway. We just have to be more cautious and keep a close eye on our kids’ daily activities to protect them from negative influences.

It’s important that we show them happy movies and stories, and preserve their childhood for as long as possible. Childhood is the most carefree and happy time they will ever have. Let’s not rob our children of this wonderful, innocent experience.

It really is difficult being parents today, but we can only try.

Mel’s Place by MELINDA LOOI

Award-winning fashion designer Melinda Looi tries to marry consumerism and materialism with environmental consciousness, and believes her greatest creations are her children. Follow her on Facebook or write in to star2@thestar.com.my.

Love triangle led to murder of teenage girl !


Love Tringle_Lucia-Mejia-Kaur PETALING JAYA: A love triangle is believed to be the reason for the brutal murder of Parhwine Lucia Mejia Kaur (pic), whose body was found in a drain near a football field in Bandar Puchong Jaya on Tuesday.

Serdang OCPD Asst Comm Abdul Razak Elias said investigations revealed that the 18-year-old might have been the victim of a love triangle that went awry.

He added that Parhwine’s boyfriend, who is in his 20s, was detained a few hours after her body was found at 6.50pm. Her motorcycle was found some 50m away.

“He is the prime suspect. However, there is a possibility that there were others involved as well,” he said yesterday.

It is learnt that Parhwine was murdered after a quarrel with her boyfriend over his “indiscretions” with another woman.

The boyfriend was said to have cheated on her with another girl and sources revealed that the boyfriend was the last person seen with the victim before she died.

ACP Abdul Razak said police were also investigating several blogs which picked up the story on the murder.

“Some blogs had highlighted a comment on the victim’s Facebook page, taunting the police saying Parhwine’s murderer will never be caught.

“We are working together with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission to find out who had posted the comment. It may also have been a sick joke posted by a hacker,” he said.

ACP Abdul Razak said a post-mortem revealed that Parhwine died due to loss of blood from severe neck injuries. Parhwhine was reported missing on Monday, a day before her body was found.

Friends and family members told the police that the victim knew the suspect for only four months and that they were always arguing.

ACP Abdul Razak urged anyone with information to call the police hotline at 03-2052 9999 or visit the nearest police station.

By FARIK ZOLKEPLI and AUSTIN CAMOENS The Star

Measuring your Heart Rate for fitness


Why do you need to know your heart rate? What heart rate zone will give you the absolute BEST results for fat burning from your cardio?

I was recently inspired to write this article on heart rates in relation to fitness due to the numerous questions I have received lately about it, and the importance of knowing what it is, and why. Even though the heart rate is a huge element to achieving an optimal workout, and its been around forever, many individuals do not know what theirs is, or how to measure it, or even to care about it. So I am going to clarify this simple yet important component to fitness.

Resting, Exercise and Maximum
Heart Rates
 
There are three HR to consider when training to get fit, or as it relates to cardiovascular fitness, as well as your Target Zone.

The first is the Resting HR. This is your HR when you are not engaging in any physical activity that elevates it, or when you are in a resting state such as sleep. As you become more fit, this number will decrease because your heart and lungs have become stronger. The heart is then able to pump more blood, which is called stroke volume, throughout the body with less effort. The lungs are able to pull in more oxygen, which is called maximum oxygen uptake, with less effort, which means more blood and oxygen to the working muscles makes up the endurance portion of being fit. Having enough oxygen going into the blood keeps the lactic acid out-thus you can sustain a prolonged aerobic workout.

A normal Resting HR can vary as low as 40 BPM to as high as 100 BPM. 70 BPM is usually the average for a man, and 75 BPM is average for a woman. The Resting HR should be used as an index to improve your cardiovascular fitness level, with a focus on decreasing it. The best time to measure your Resting HR is when you first arise from sleep in the morning. The palpation (beats) of the Radial Pulse is accurately measured in your wrist in line with the base of your thumb. Place the tips of your index and middle fingers over the Radial Artery and apply a light pressure to it. DO NOT USE YOUR THUMB. It has a pulse of it’s own. You may count the beats for one full minute to get the HR, or for 30 seconds and multiply by 2 for the number of BPM.

The Second is the Exercise HR. This is the rate at which your body is in motion from a sustained exercise, and the rate increases. Of course you measure it during exercise. The goal here is to stay within your Target HR Range or Zone, which is normally between 75% to 85% of your Maximum HR which is the third. Maximum HR is the rate at which your heart beats at 100% Max. during a sustained aerobic activity. You never want to work at 100% of your Max. HR unless a professional has you on a specific program designed for that, and your fitness level can sustain it. 100% of Max. will cause you to cross over into an Anaerobic Threshold. These numbers can vary depending on your age and fitness level.

The Exercise Pulse is most accurately palpated at the larger Carotid Artery on the side of the neck. It is usually located beside the larynx. Place your index and middle fingers alongside the base of your ear lobe and slide it down to the side of your throat and apply a light pressure. DO NOT apply a heavy pressure to the Carotid Artery when measuring your Exercise HR. These arteries contain Baroreceptors that sense increases in pressure and will respond by slowing down your HR. You will feel this pulse easily during a workout, so heavy pressure is not needed to locate it. The Exercise HR should be taken for 10 seconds, always counting the first beat as “0,” then multiply by 6. This number is your Exercise HR. Which brings me to the point of all of this information.


For Determining Your Max Heart Rate 

To determine your Maximum HR, use the calculators below. The simple formula: Take 220 and minus your age which is accurate to approximately +15 BPM. You then take that number and multiply it by .75 – .85, which will give you your percentages of 75% — 85% of your Max. HR. This is the Target Range or Zone that you want to stay in when doing any type of cardiovascular (aerobic) activity. When in this range your body is getting an optimum workout with maximum benefit, and it stays in a Fat Burning mode.
There are two different ways to calculate your maximum heart rate and your target heart rates. The method I just explained is the simple method.
Simple Target Heart Rate Calculator
Using the 220 – Age formula.

HEART RATE CALCULATOR
Enter Your Age
Results
Max Heart Rate
75-85% Max Heart Rate
THR 15 sec count

 

The Karvonnen formula is more advanced since it also takes into account your resting heart rate. This is your heart rate at complete rest. To determine this, take your pulse for 60 seconds just before you get out of bed… or take it for 30 seconds and multiply by 2.
Advanced Target Heart Rate Calculator
Using the Karvonen Formula.

  • For your age, use a whole year. (Between 0 and 100)
  • Put your Resting Heart Rate in the next box. (Between 30 and 100)
  • In the % box, use a number between 50 and 85. Do not include the %.
  • Click on the Calculate button, and it will calculate your target heart rate or that percentage.
Your Age in Years
Resting Heart Rate
% of Maximum Effort
Your Target Heart Rate
%

When you start to work over these percentages, not unless you are in great shape and can push yourself into a higher range, then you have gone into an Anaerobic Threshold. Which means that you are pushing yourself way too hard, and no healthy benefits are being obtained. You are defeating your purpose. If you push yourself into an Anaerobic Threshold your body can no longer meet its demand for oxygen. You will start to feel exhausted, your HR increases above the Max. (which is 100%), you will stop the fat burning process, and you will start to hyperventilate due to the excessive amounts of lactic acid in your body. In other words, you are not pulling in enough clean oxygen through the lungs to clean it out of the blood. Your heart can no longer pump enough blood to your working muscles to sustain your activity, and you are overloading yourself. You prevent this from happening by staying in your Target HR Range. As you become more fit, you can push yourself into a higher range without going over into the Anaerobic Threshold. The purpose of this article is to give you insight to perceive that, and always know where you are in your range or zone when working out.

AN FYI Remember that Aerobic means “with oxygen,” and Anaerobic means “without oxygen.” Aerobic exercise is training at a certain level of intensity for a sustained period of time, usually 20 minutes to 1 hour as on a stair-climber, treadmill, or in an aerobics class. You need oxygen rich blood to maintain this.

Anaerobic exercise is training at a level of intensity that does not require a sustained period of time, usually 30 seconds to 1 minute. Such as weight training, strength circuit, circuit and interval training sessions when sets/reps are involved. Because the time period is shorter and faster in cases of intervals and circuits, you use all of the oxygen rich blood more quickly to complete your sets/reps before lactic acid causes you to stop the exercise. That’s what “The Burn” means. Then you take a break so the blood can be cleaned of lactic acid and you catch your breath before your next set.

One more element to consider is the Rating of Perceived Exertion Scale. This scale provides a standard means for evaluating your perception of your exercise intensity. You can use this scale on a 1 – 10 basis with 1 being “very very easy,” and 10 being “very very hard.” If you’re like me, I don’t like to stop during my aerobic exercise sessions to measure my HR, so I use this scale to measure where I am in my Target Range. I know how I feel at 75% — 95% of my Maximum HR, so I can either increase or decrease my intensity before I cross over into an Anaerobic Threshold, and maintain my work out and Fat Burning process. If you are going to use this scale, make sure that you too know how you feel at 75% — 85% of your Max. HR so that your perception is accurate on this scale.

Working out in the Target Zone helps me get lean!
(Editor’s Note: This pic gets MY heart going.)

Knowing this simple information will help you greatly in evaluating your progress when training to get fit, or when training to compete. You can develop your training sessions and know what you need to change or add in your program by being in tune to your Heart Rate. Always be aware that you are in THE ZONE!

Train for Success!!!

Source

 

Related post:

Rightways for Heart Health

Rightways for Heart Health


Work to stretch and strengthen your body for 30 minutes, and you will pump up your heart

Heart_running_healthy_man_woman
Run For Heart Health!
Heart_health_Women

Unless you live on another planet or under a rock, you probably know by now how important exercise is to overall fitness and heart health.

It is a message that is hard to escape these days. There is plenty of research to suggest that exercise can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers.

It can also help lower high blood pressure and lift your mood. And it has been shown to improve self-esteem and help with weight loss.

Yet despite the many studies backing the role exercise plays in heart health, a lot of adults aren’t listening. Two-thirds of them are considered overweight and one-third fall into the obese category with a body mass index over 30.

For many, getting fit and healthy might seem like an unachievable goal, but experts say you don’t have to spend hours in the gym to see the benefits of exercise.

A minimum of 30 minutes of cardio exercise can do the trick.

“It doesn’t matter what type, as long as you do it,” said Dr. Daniel Clearfield, Cowtown Medical director and a sports medicine and primary-care physician.

“Ideally, you should do it five days a week but even two is beneficial.”

Casual exercising is not going to do the trick, said Dr. Benjamin Levine, director of the Institute of Exercise and Environmental Medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center and Texas Health Resources.

It has to be something that you are committed to doing on a regular basis.

“Exercise should be part of hygiene, just like brushing your teeth,” said Levine, who is also a professor of medicine and cardiology at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Running and swimming are excellent. But cycling, walking on a treadmill or working out on an elliptical can also be beneficial.

Even yoga or tai chi can make a difference if the workout is strenuous enough to elevate your heart rate.

Any combination of endurance exercises that get the large muscle groups moving is going to get results.

Whatever exercise you chose, you should be moving enough to produce a sweat. Runners should be moving at a clip that is fast enough to make talking possible but not easy. A Zumba class can get you the same results, if you are moving fast enough.

“Anything that gets your heart rate up, makes you sweat a little and makes you short of breath,” Levine said.

To improve your overall health and keep your ticker pumping effectively, add strength and stretching exercises to a cardio routine one or two days a week. Yoga is great for stretching, and you can build strength with or without the use of weights.

Commit to exercising regularly and your body will respond.

The heart is a muscle, so you want to strengthen it, but you also want to tone the arteries around the heart, just like you would tone your arms, Clearfield said.

“When you work your biceps, you’ll find it easier to lift things,” he said. “It’s the same thing with your heart.”
With regular exercise, the heart starts pumping more efficiently and your stamina improves. That can pay off in big ways.

If someone is sedentary and one day has to run hard to catch a bus, he may end up having a heart attack, Levine says, as an example. “But for someone who is fit, that’s barely a blip,” he said.

Although the younger you start exercising, the better, you are never too old to get into shape. Someone who is really committed to fitness when they are young could have a heart that is as youthful as a 30-year-old later in life.

If you start at 70, you won’t be able to protect against arteriosclerosis but you can protect your heart against sudden death and see the health benefits of regular exercise, such as lower blood pressure, Levine said.

It takes about six weeks to start seeing an improvement in physical fitness, but the payoff continues over a lifetime, Clearfield said.

“Exercise is great at combating obesity and keeping the heart healthy,” he said. “In the long run that can mean more years of life.”

Expert tips on starting a healthy, heart-wise excercise rountine

We asked three fitness pros from the Amon G. Carter Downtown YMCA to demonstrate three ways to kick off a healthy routine that includes cardio, strength and stretching.

Stretching

Yoga is one of the best ways to stretch the body, but a lot of people steer clear of this type of exercise because they are afraid it is just too hard to get into those pretzellike poses.

But you don’t have to be limber like a rubber band to benefit from yoga. Poses can be modified, and most teachers are more than willing to do what it takes to make yoga accessible.

Yoga is all about focusing on your mat and not worrying about how flexible your neighbor is. The best way to enjoy the many heart-healthy benefits of yoga, including stress reduction and lower blood pressure, is to just do it.

“Yoga is how you get flexible,” said Lisa Rodriguez, a trainer and instructor at the Downtown YMCA. “You don’t have to start off flexible to do it.”

Two to try at least twice a week:

1. Downward-facing dog – (Watch your dog stretch for hints on how to do this)

What it does: Strengthens shoulders and back. Stretches hamstrings and calves.

What to remember: Breathe through your nose. Keep your core muscles tight, your spine long and your shoulders down.

Kneel on all fours with your hands providing support and your fingers spread like starfish. Lift your hips so your tailbone is pointed toward the ceiling. Your body should be in an upside-down V shape. Shoulders should be down. Your hands and feet should be your foundation. If your hamstrings are less flexible, you can bend your knees to lift your hips up and back. Listen to your body and only stretch as far as you are comfortable.

2. Side gate

What it does: Increases strength, balance and flexibility. Opens hips.

What to remember: Maintain your alignment so you don’t injure your rotator cuff.

From all fours, turn toward one side, bend one leg and use it for support. Raise the other leg, pushing the heel forward and keeping it flexed. Raise your arm to the ceiling, keeping your hand and shoulder aligned, fingers spread. Hold the position for a few seconds.

Strength

3. Lunge

What it does: Strengthens glutes, thighs and calves

What to remember: Keep your knee behind your toes when bending.

Standing tall, step forward with one leg, bending at the knee. Drop the other leg toward the floor, then slowly return to starting position. Repeat on the other side, working up to 12 reps. If this too easy, try holding light weights in each hand.

4. Pushup

What it does: Strengthens chest, triceps and shoulders.

What to remember: Keep core muscles tight

Start on all fours with your spine in a neutral position and hands spread wide apart. Drop toward the floor, keeping your spine straight. Repeat.

Cardio

5. Running

What it does: Improves endurance, stamina and heart health

What to remember: Start off slowly and gradually build up. You need to walk fast or run about 30 minutes five times a week for heart health.

For fitness, you need to move fast enough to sweat for 30 minutes.

For interval training, alternate between 1 to 2 minutes of running at 85 percent of your maximum heart rate and 2 to 3 minutes at 65 percent of your maximum heart rate. Repeat for up to 30 minutes.

By Jan Jarvis jjarvis@star-telegram.com
Related post:

Mums top list of child abusers


KUALA LUMPUR: In a surprising finding, the highest number of child abusers turn out to be the hand that rocks the cradle the victim’s mother.

Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Heng Seai Kie said statistics from the past three years had revealed that most child abusers were parents themselves and in particular, mothers.

“Mothers make up 25.4% of perpetrators in child abuse cases while 18.9% are fathers.

“Together, parents comprise 44.3% of child abusers in incidents recorded nationwide last year,” she said in her speech at the third national conference of the Association of Registered Child Care Providers Malaysia here yesterday.

Heng said the third largest number of child abusers at 11% of the total number of cases were the lovers of teenage victims.

Children are defined by the ministry as those aged below 18.

Parents should learn to strike a balance between work and parental responsibilities, she said.

Heng also revealed that child abuse statistics from Selangor and Kuala Lumpur were constantly above 50% of the total number of cases in the country.

On another matter, she said the ministry hoped to increase the percentage of children enrolled in child care centres from the current 4% to 25% by 2020.

“This is in line with the Government’s policy of encouraging the participation of women in the workforce.

“One of our objectives is to increase the number of women from the current 41% to at least 55% of the total workforce by 2015,” said Heng, adding that a major challenge facing women who wanted a career was their responsibility towards their children.

She added that to set up more child care centres, the Government had offered incentives to corporate bodies and government agencies to establish such facilities at the workplace.

Heng said a RM200,000 incentive was given to government agencies while private companies were offered a tax deduction of 10% from their annual income for 10 years by the Finance Ministry to set up child care centres.

Early Child Care and Education Council assistant treasurer Shamsinah Shariff said it would encourage housing developers to set aside land to build child care centres and kindergartens at residential areas.

By YUEN MEIKENG  meikeng@thestar.com.my 

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