Arun is Bringing You...Your Daily Remedy

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Wake Up To "Arun"

No I'm not hosting a morning radio show. I've actually thought that I'd make for a good radio or TV personality, but alas that won't be happening until after I am famous.

I'm actually talking about the origin of my name. For those of you who don't know, Arun is an Indian name (think Kwik-e-Mart, not hats with feathers). My parents were both born in India, so I guess that makes me American-Indian right?

I'm actually never sure about this. If I say I'm American-Indian, people think my name means something like "Runs with Buffalo." If I say I'm Indian, I get the same goddamn question every time..."So do you like, worship cows???" If I say I'm American, people look at me all confused as if I didn't answer the question properly.

When someone asks me where I'm from, I usually have to go into an explanation that my ancestry is from India and I'm from America. And speaking of ethnicity, you know when you fill out those various forms for whatever, how there's usually a question asking you to put a check mark next to your ethnicity? I'm never really sure what to checkmark here. "Indian" is never an option. Do I check Asian? I'm mean India is on the continent of Asia, but so is Russia and I don't think anybody would classify Russians as "Asians." Most people take "Asian" to refer to people of Mongoloid decent (in politically incorrect terms, people with slanted eyes).

Scientifically, people from India are actually Caucasian, but if I put a checkmark in the Caucasian box, then its automatically assumed I'm white, which is pretty plain to see that I'm not. Occasionally, there's an "other" box which I'll select and do the old write-in, but you'd be surprised how often there is no "other" option, and I'm left all confused as to which box to check, but I digress.

As I was saying four paragraphs ago, "Arun" is an Indian name which means, "The Morning Sun." I've always thought this was pretty cool. Originally, my Mom wanted to name me "Murali" but my Dad's brother ended up using that name for his son.

Thank God.

People have a hard enough time hearing and saying my name as it is, and a name like Murali would make things incredibly difficult. I usually have to say my name twice when introducing myself, then I have to follow it up with a rhyme of some sort to make it easy for people to remember. "Arun, like macaroon, except without the Mac!"

As much as like my name, there are some disadvantages to having a tricky name. In school, it always took teachers at LEAST a week to get my name right. Sometimes, after a while, they'd slowly start mispronouncing it, but by this point we'd already sort of know eachother so it'd be kind of weird saying "Actually you're pronouncing it wrong." Whenever we'd have a sub, I'd have to listen extra careful during roll to hear an attempt at my name.

At restaurants, when I leave the hostess my name for a table, I have to listen for about four different possible pronunciations of my name for fear of missing my table.

There are however far better benefits to having a unique name. I'm generally the only "Arun" people know, so confusion is never an issue. Once my name is learned, its usually never forgotten because of its uniqueness.

I'm also able to go with the "one name solution." What am I talking about? Think along the lines of "Usher," "Beyonce," and "Aaliyah." All people identifiable by only there first name. I'm going for the same thing. I usually avoid putting my last name on things when I don't have to in order to have the "one name solution." When I become a celebrity, I'll be referred to simply as, "Arun."

In fact, about ten or twelve years ago, I was at a book fair in a Library in Alaska, and found an old book for sale titled, "The Arun." Apparently there's is a valley at the base of the Himalayas, nestled between China and India, named "The Arun Valley." I now own the book which details the lush plantation and wildlife that live in The Arun.

I still wish there were less Arun's. I've only really ever known and been friends with one other Arun (he was a college friend of my Dad's). Right now, my webpage is 51st in google's index when you search the name "Arun." It's steadily moving up, but surprisingly, a lot of Arun's have websites.

My goal is to surpass all of these people and become King of the Arun's!!! Basically, I want to be number 1 on Google's search index for my name. Anyways, if you ever meet an Arun, tell him you enjoy The Morning Sun, and I'm sure he'll like you right away. After all, with a cool name like that, I'd want to be friends with him too!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Sunday Funday!

I have just discovered the true meaning of Sunday Funday. Allow me to elaborate.

Sunday is usually a nice relaxing rest day for me. I go out to breakfast, get some chores done, work on some of my projects, play music, play tennis, read, and pretty much putter around most of the day. Last Sunday morning was supposed to be more of the same.

Not by a Long Shot.

Sunday morning, I went down to Pacific Beach to hang out with my friend Bryan. We took the beach cruisers out, went to breakfast, and cruised up and down the boardwalk. So far, pretty normal right?

Well later that afternoon, we decide to go check out some skateboards and then go over to Lahaina's to grab a beer.

Let me give you a brief description of this place. Its an ultra casual beach front bar. Everybody congregates on the raised patio which faces the boardwalk and the ocean. Bikinis abound on the patio.

Well, it turns out on Sundays, this place has really cheap pitchers of beer, so to save money we just get a pitcher. Innocent enough right? We head out to the patio and share a table with some girls we just met. So far this Lahaina's is pretty fun! I can't complain about Beer and Bikinis!

As soon as these girls take off, we snake the table. Well, now we've just gotten a table but we've finished our pitcher. I suppose we should get another one seeing that it would be a shame to waste this table.

It turns out that having a table makes you immensely popular at this place. We had all types of people coming up and sharing pieces of our table throughout the afternoon. Every time we had a vacancy, I'd invite a new party to our area. By late afternoon, we had met probably 20 people who were all partying with us!

As you can probably guess the waitress continued to replenish our pitchers. All this socializing was making me quite thirsty. To boot, some of our new friends were rewarding our awesomeness by buying us additional pitchers! I'm not one to be rude, so I politely accepted these generous offers.

Some of the notable people we met:

-A Swiss couple visiting San Diego who were drinking prior to heading to Black's Beach to "have some naked fun."
-A stripper from Vegas
-An older lady who "loved" Bryan and was infatuated with my "great skin."
-A 33 year old Cougar who liked me and went on to say "I'm a little too old for you but I want you to meet my 17 year old daughter!" YIKES! No thank you. First of all, 17!?! Come on. Second of all, you were 16 when you had her so that makes her late on the baby making according to your history. Arun Jr. won't be coming for quite a few years.
-A giant party celebrating someones 23rd birthday.

By late afternoon, Jeff had joined our newly discovered Sunday Funday, and we left for another bar with the big birthday group which we had now been inducted to. Jeff and Bryan won us shots by beating some guys in foozball while I meanwhile started a "dance off" between these two twin girls that I met.

Oh but the dancing was far from over! We then beach-cruised over to Moondoggies and met some dance-happy bachelorette party. Well, I have been known to bust a move or two, and it would have been rude of me not to oblige their request, so I, out of the goodness of my heart, joined the fray with one of the brides-maids-to-be.

Yes, this newly discovered fun-day may soon become a regular event. Not only was Sunday ridiculously entertaining, but during the chaos, while talking to Bryan, I came up with a great idea for my next website which has the potential to add to my cash flow!

For you in San Diego, or anywhere for that matter, I highly recommend having a Sunday Funday every now and then, although I have feeling it might be a little more "now" than "then." :)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Trash Talking Wonder

There's no better feeling than talking a lot of trash, then following it up with the actual goods.

I imagine there would be no worse feeling than talking a lot of trash and following it up with abysmalness. I wouldn't know :)

Yes friends, I will admit that, among my friends, I am a serious trash talker. In fact, I don't even think what I say should be classified as "trash talk." It would be more accurate to call it "Truth."

I'm generally not an instigator since sometimes it's nice to fly under the radar, but the minute someone says anything controversial, I let the bombs fly and no one is safe!

The most recent example that comes to mind is the currently occurring March Madness. I was all set to have a nice, friendly little sweepstakes, but then I caught this little gem in a group email from my friend Aaron who set up our March Madness group.

Most likely to win- Aaron
Most likely to lose - Arun"

Oh no he di'int! Nobody gets away with this! It was time for retaliation so I sent out this little gem of "Truth."

"What!?! Most likely to LOSE? Not only do I have a proven track record of kicking YOUR ass, but I have a proven track record of kicking ass in general! My methods are flawless and my teams perform. I was going to make it a close game this year, but now I'm afraid I'm going to have win outright. Good Luck for second place, and if someone wants my advice for picks, I usually charge five bucks per pick, but since you all are friends, I'll drop it to four."

Well we are currently almost halfway through the NCAA tournament and Aaron is holding down the sixth place spot with a vengeance! I meanwhile am situated quietly in first place.

Despite its simplicity, the art of good trash talking, and elevating it to "truth" status is actually quite complex. I'm going to share with you some excerpts from chapter 19 of "Arun's Guide to Lifetime Awesomeness," entitled "From Trash Talk to Truth: Breaking Down the Competition Before the Game Has Even Started."

1. Use historical examples. This should highlight examples of you previously kicking ass. You should then take these examples and make them analogous to major real world events such as Empires conquering Territories or Countries dominating a war.

2. Relay the messages with confidence and an element of "niceness." Saying things in a pseudo-complementary way is a dagger! (ie. "Justin, your tennis skills are amazing! You definitely would be top 5 material in my 'Tennis for Toddlers' class!")

3. Hyperbolize your opponents weaknesses. (ie. "Justin, I've got a couple of Coke bottles that you can maybe tape to your eyes so you can see the ball better")

4. Once the competition is over, discontinue the talk unless provoked. There's no better satisfaction than letting the competition stew in anger over not only losing to you, but knowing that you backed up your talk! Throwing additional jabs is not necessary unless they start up again in which case you now have so much ammo (since you just beat them) that their case is futile!

5. Don't fire barbs at sensitive area's. Making fun of Chubby Checker's weight or Margo Midget's height is too easy and not cool. Nobody likes a meanie.

6. Make fun of the opponents strengths! This totally turns the tables on them and makes the competition putty in your hands! Example: Justin refers to himself as "The Shot Master" for his prowess at being able to take a vast quantity quantity of shots, beyond what any normal man should be able to take. I would use this to my advantage if I were to shoot a verbal arrow his way (ie. "Justin, you're gonna be so tired from getting run around the tennis court, your gonna need those shot taking skills to guzzle back water! Meanwhile, I'll be holding a racquet in one hand and Saltines in the other."

I think I've given you enough tips to make you quite dangerous to engage in a friendly verbal joust! Just remember, "He who backs up trash talk with performance, speaks only Truth!" Good luck!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Wanted by the Mob

Last summer I visited New York City for the first time. I flew up to attend a wedding, but saved a couple days so I that I could go around and see as much as possible.

In two days I saw quite a bit: The United Nations Headquarters, Manhattan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Bridge, Times Squar, the Soupman Kitchen (No Soup for Me!...only because it was closed when I went by) and more. Perhaps the most interesting event of the short trip happened on my first night in NYC.

I was with my Mom and Sister as well as another group of family friends; about eight of us all together. We decided to go to this nice upperscale Italian restaurant. Everything was great! Food was impecable, I was downing cocktails, and we had a cute waitress.

Dinner wrapped up after a while and we headed down the stairs to the bottom floor of the restaurant to leave. As I'm leaving I hear these voices behind me. Then I hear real loud, "HEY! HEY! HEY!!!!"

I turn around as I'm entering the little circular revolving door chamber to leave the restaurant, and see a well dressed Italian guy with a briefcase get bum rushed by one of the waiters! The waiter's yelling at him, runs up and grabs the guy from behind, and throws him face first into and through the adjacent door right next to me!

At this point I'm a little freaked out and suprised by what's going on. My initial thought is this guy with the brief case must have insulted an overly sensitive waiter or something, but I soon learned it must have been more serious.

After throwing him out the door, two more italian waiters come out, pick up the guy, throw him into some patio chairs and hold him down while a third guy starts kicking him! Then, I swear to God, like five more guys come out and are getting involved!

Now normally, being the man that I am, I would have gone in and tried to break the whole thing up. Somehow though, I ended up all the way on the other side of the street as the fight escalated, so by the time I'd get all the way back across, the fight probably wouldn've been resolved, right? Lucky for those guys...

But the scuffle wasn't over! Who then comes jetting out the door but the CHEF! That's right, the Chef! Now's he's getting into it and yelling at the guy, and some other guys are trying to calm the chef down!

Me being safely on the other side of the street at this point decide to whip out my camera to get some of this golden footage. Afterall, its not everyday you get to see an italian mob flex there muscles! Unfortunately, it was too dark to get any decent footage so I wound up with nothing.

As the dispute was winding up, the mob lets up on the briefcase guy and kick him to the curb telling him the get the hell out of there. I'm still trying to get some footage at this point. Then I see someone point in MY direction!

Uh oh...not good.

I didn't want to have beat anybody down on my vacation, so instead as soon as I saw that finger pointing in my direction, I went into stealth mode and dashed into a nearby crowd of pedestrians.

All this on my first night in The Big Apple. Welcome to New York.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Power of Being Social

It’s funny how wisdom kind of sneaks up on you. One minute you’re 17, heading off to college, moving away from home for the first time, only concerned about how hot the girls are gonna be on your campus (and possibly the prospect of getting a degree). The next you’re 23 and planning the rest of your life in general.

In these six years, one of the most important things I’ve learned through experience is the power of being your most social self. I say “most social self” because I know not everyone by nature is social. In fact for some, the attempt at being social is almost crippling.

I am naturally a social butterfly (my friend Dave nicknamed me “The Monarch” because of this trait), but this quality has increased over the years, both naturally, and through concerted effort of my own to be more social. Why do I make this effort? I have learned that there are FAR more benefits to being outgoing and social than mild mannered and reserved.

So what are some of these benefits? Well, lets take my office job for example. Most people at work get through the day interacting only with people they need to for work and exchanging casualties with work “friends.” It’s fairly common that two people who don’t know each other will cross paths without so much as looking at eachother.

I do the complete opposite.

At the VERY LEAST, I smile at every single person I see. Most of the time I’ll say “Hey!” When I’m getting coffee and I run into someone, I always make conversation, and if I don’t know them, I’ll introduce myself. As a result, almost everyone on my floor at work knows me! Its great walking through the halls because everyone says hi to me and I joke around and conversate with people throughout the day, almost none of whom I directly work with! These daily interactions make work much more enjoyable.

In fact, I don’t limit this to only work. I do it almost everywhere. A lot of times you’ll see something happen while you’re out and about but you won’t say anything. Confused? Let me give an example. The other day I was at the grocery store in the produce section and a lady was checking out the apples. She went to pick one up to inspect and somehow it slipped out of hands and fell to the ground. In the process of trying to catch it, she knocked another one off as well.

Normally most people won’t say anything to save her from embarrassment. The old me wouldn’t have said anything either. So what did I do?

Lady: “Heeheehee! That apple got away from me”
Me: “Maybe you should let me pick for you. I don’t know if the store can afford your business!”
Lady: “Hehehe! Common now I’m not that bad.”
Me: “In fact I think they have a three strikes policy. Two more slips and you’re banned! And don’t even think about going NEAR the watermelons!

After some more banter, we went our separate ways, but this funny interaction made a mundane activity like going to the store, much more entertaining for both of us! This is just one example of interactions I have like this EVERYDAY. I think this is one of the reasons I’m always in a good mood. Having these fun, positive interactions, even with complete strangers, puts not only me in a good mood, but it leaves the other person feeling great as well.

In fact, getting to know people whom you may see more than once has far more benefits than just feeling good. In college, there were a couple of bars I used to frequent, and after chatting with the bartenders and bouncers a few times, they began just letting me in without checking id’s, and I’d get discounts on drinks! At the coffee shop I go to frequently (and where I am right now), my drinks always come right away even if they are busy because I now know all of the baristas.

At work, when other departments are having little party’s for birthdays or whatnot, I get invited to indulge despite not even being in the department! Yes, being social has many of these “selfish” benefits.

The fact is, being social even if it means stepping out of your comfort zone to be so, has so many tangible and intangible benefits. The problem is, the people who have the most trouble being social are those who are by nature, antisocial.

Well there are some ways to help overcome this and become “your most social self.”

1. Ask people you naturally encounter how they are. These are people like the grocery store clerk and bagger, the receptionist etc. Simply by going beyond the normal pleasantry of “Hi” leaves open for some more conversation to be had. Even though “how are you” is pretty generic and is generally not considered a legitimate question, it’s a start. Even better though is “How is your day going?” This actually gets a real response more than just “fine” most of the time.

2. Try to make eye contact and smile at everyone you pass. You know those situations when you’re walking by someone and to avoid awkwardness you glance then look away. Just as you look away they smile and say “HI!” and as you’re passing you try to recover and say “Hello” all the while feeling a little guilty for being a cold bastard. Well don’t be that guy!!! Even just a smile makes you come off as extremely friendly and approachable.

3. Treat everyone you meet like old friends. Even if you just met someone, joking around and speaking candidly automatically raises the comfort level and makes the other person(s) feel a social connection.

4. Don’t hold in your thoughts. When you see something that you could comment on, just say it! Don’t wait and let yourself get anxious or nervous. Let it out right away. If someone does something embarrassing, tease them a little about it! Everyone loves light hearted humor. This goes hand in hand with treating people like old friends. My grocery store interaction is one example. Here’s another: I was at my favorite coffee shop and the barista was really cute. When it came time to order, I asked how her day was to get conversation going. At one point she asked me what I was reading, and I turned over my book to show her the cover. It was one of those “_____for dummies” books. I then looked up, smiled and lightheartedly said, “This series seems right up your alley!” while pointing at the word “dummies”. She laughed and playfully hit my shoulder. I was in. She ended up sitting and eating dinner with me.

5. “Its’ not what you know but who you know.” This is so true. The best way to advance in essentially any realm is by having great relationships with the people around you. When I worked at Tennis Warehouse, I advanced primarily because I had great relationships with our employees, managers, and customers.

6. Try to have at least one positive interaction everyday. This could be anything from and extended chat with a coworker to calling a friend and talking for more than just a couple of minutes. For me, having a great interaction or conversation in which both people smile leaves me feeling great for long time afterwards!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve opened my mouth and said something when I normally wouldn’t or was otherwise uncomfortable. Honestly, 99% of the time, I leave the interaction, however long or short it may have been, feeling better off!

Hell, just yesterday at work, I saw a guy in the cafĂ©’ eating by himself that I recognized from college, but I never knew him. I knew of him, of which I new he was a recluse, a bit of a nerd and seemed a bit odd. I wasn’t going to say anything to him because he didn’t see me. Then I thought about it and said to myself, “Arun, sack up and go talk to him!” I went and introduced myself and asked how he was enjoying the company. We chatted for a couple of minutes before I left. The great thing was, I could tell he was genuinely excited to be chatting with someone rather than eating alone the whole time.

I left feeling great, not because he did anything specifically for me, but because I think I made his day just a little bit better. Social Arun enjoys life so much more than less social Arun.

UPDATE! My ebook about becoming your most charming, social self is now available HERE. This is a complete accumulation of everything I know about social dynamics and making your life happier and more interesting. Check out The Social Charmer!"

Monday, March 12, 2007

Kicked Out of College?

Believe it or not, there was a week in my life where I was sure my career at Cal Poly was over.

I was a freshman at Cal Poly and, being fresh from high school, was used to excelling at academics. Whatever happened to those days? I was enrolled in Computer Science 102 which turned out to be one of hardest classes I ever had at Cal Poly, and also one of the most educational. It also happened to take about ten years off the end of my life.

The class workload basically consisted of writing a lot of computer programs with a partner. When we picked partners at the beginning of the quarter, it was basically a crap shoot since no one knew anybody yet. And when I say "crap shoot" I'm serious.

I ended up with crap.

My lab partner was a smart guy, but he was also impractical, ADD, and a bit of a LOT of a nut. He would go crazy writing a bunch of code, then he would change his mind and change huge sections while I meanwhile was planning a clean, practical way of finishing this damn thing in a semi-insane amount of time. Suffice to say, this didn't really mesh with me especially considering I wasn't exactly proficient with computers yet either.

About half way through the quarter, the class was assigned a MOTHER of a program. I'm not talking about a normal mother either. I'm talking 300 lbs, 50 inch waist with cankles and curlers.

Not pretty.

So as we get started I get frustrated with my partner and decide to try and tackle this program on my own. Meanwhile, it turns out another guy in the class, Josh, lives a few doors down from me in my dorm and by this point we had become good friends.

Now Josh had an interesting problem with his lab partner. He was much smarter than me in his lab partner selection. I was young and naive and went with someone I hoped would be smart AND be a good partner. We know now this didn't pan out. Josh instead chose the HOT blond in the class. I don't think I need to tell you the odds of 1) Even having a hot blond in a computer science class and 2) That blond having any idea of what the hell is going on beyond the "pretty curves of the Arial font."

He knew what he was getting into, and now he was paying the price. Curiously, they had been getting stellar grades on their program assignments which totally perplexed me. How the hell is this possible?!! I knew Josh was smart, but I couldn't understand how the hell he was getting perfect grades all on his own!

I remember grilling him about it after which he revealed to me that he was writing all the programs himself, then she was taking them to her brother who was a software engineer for like Intel or something, and he would doctor up any mistakes so that the program was clean and efficient.

This strategy worked out for Josh for awhile until this fugly program was assigned. Josh and I discussed strategies for attacking this program for awhile, and decided to attack this program together. This seemed logical for a couple of reasons. Both Josh and I had an idea of what was going on and we were conveniently lived like 20 feet from each other so we could work whenever we wanted.

After some time, we finally finished the program, exhausted and depleted. Phone rings and its Josh's lab partner calling to see how "their" program is going.


It dawns on us that we never informed her that we were going to work together on this. Josh, out of obligation now so close to the due date can't ditch her so we instead we decide to panic. Luckily, she had her brother write about a third of the program for her, so Josh managed to weave this into what we had written and was going to submit it as theirs.

I meanwhile went in and tried to change as much as possible so that it wouldn't look like one of us simply copied from each other. On the cover sheet of the submittal there was a section where you list other people you "discussed" the program with. In order to both be honest and avoid suspicion, we listed each other on our submittal.

Fast forward a week. Its the morning of a midterm, and Josh goes to see Prof. Stearns early to get the graded program back to study before the midterm. I meanwhile am eating breakfast at some crappy campus dining facility. Josh comes in looking flustered.

Josh: "Arun, we're in trouble..."
Me: "What do you mean Josh, I think we're ready for this test!"
Josh: "I just talked to Stearns and he said don't bother coming to class because he's flunking us and reporting us to judicial affairs"
Josh: "Arun?"
Me: "I'm gonna be sick...listen don't panic. Let's show up, take the test, and we'll talk to him after."

Meanwhile, inside I'm panicking and freaking the hell out.

So after the test we go chat with the prof. It turns out that in about 800 lines of code, we had 3 consecutive lines that were identical and both exactly wrong in the same way. I was up front and told him we worked together but that there was no "copying" involved.

One of my main arguments was that if we were really cheating, why would we have been stupid enough to list each other on the cover sheet as other people we discussed the program with? (To which the answer I guess would be Yes, we were that stupid) He said he would look over the program again and determine if he felt this was cheating.

The following week was the longest week of my life. I have never been depressed, but I imagine this was the closest I've ever been to it. Josh and I were flipping out. The more I thought about it, the more I was scared that the prof would find some obscure thing to call us on. The religious guys in my dorms were all praying for us.
I seriously had no appetite (for once in my life) and was constantly worried.

Finally, a week later the prof spoke to us and was all jovial.

Stearns: "You guys did a pretty good job and I didn't find anything too incriminating! HA HA Haaaa!"
Me Thinking: ("Ha Ha Ha??? I'm freaking out all week and this is 'Ha ha ha' to you!?!")
Stearns: "I just want you two to work solo for the rest of the quarter and you'll be fine fellas!"

I wasn't sure whether to be pissed at him or exstatic. Me being me, I chose the latter.

I left the room and proceded to moonwalk up and down the hallway! "I'm BACK BABY!" After Josh came out, I continued doing the happy dance with him. (And by "with him" I mean alongside of him)

If fact, Prof Stearns actually ended up liking me and gave me a really favorable grade despite my sub par test scores in that class. Josh and Prof. Stearns eventually became good friends and I believe to this day, continue to play racquetball together. Josh now works as a successful software engineer for Amazon and well, I am continuing to live life awesomely in following "Arun's Guide to Lifetime Awesomeness."

Its one of those stories where at the time, I was an absolute mess, but looking back we can all get a good chuckle. So chuckle away while I work on recalling my next crazy story or adventure.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Ten Gym Annoyances

After writing my last post about building muscle I got to thinking about my own daily experiences at the gym. The more I thought about it, the more I realized there are quite a few imbeciles working out at the gym.

For any of you who go to the gym with any regularity, you know the types of people I'm talking about. I know this must be hard for you believe since I'm not much of a ranter, but it was actually not very difficult for me to come up with a list of the top ten annoying occurences that go on in gyms everywhere! So, without further adu, I present Arun's "Top Ten Gym Annoyances."

10. Unsolicited Advice - It really drives me nuts when people who think they're fitness experts go around critiqueing your exercise without you even asking. It's one thing if they work at the gym, if you ask for advice, or if you're doing something completely wrong, but when Joe Bob tells me I should totally change up my routine, I'm not too pleased, though I don't let on:

Joe Bob: "Dude you really squat down that low!"
Me: "Oh Ok"
Me Thinking: "Oh great, I've got to listen Joe Bob tell me how to work out for five minutes"
Joe Bob: "Yea Man you'll hurt yourself. And keep your legs closer together"
Me: "Thanks Man"
Me Thinking: "Not only am I not changing anything, but now I'm running behind in my workout"

9. "I don't feel the need to where deoderant-Man." Yes, this is the guy who thinks he smells like roses all day long and doesn't need to deoderize. From a distance, he seems ok, perhaps even pleasant. But, if you happen to enter the "Zone of Death" you're in for a suprise. The worst part is that the smell lingers! If you want to use a machine that "Joe Pits" was using, you've got to leave at least a five minute buffer for the rancid smell to dilute into the air.

Sometimes, Joe Pits will sneak up on you while you're doing a set and work on the bench next you. This is extremely hazardous as you're already breathing hard since you're in the middle of a set and as you take a deep breath to power through the last realize you've been ambushed by the Zone of Death courtesy of Joe Pits! Set Over.

8. The Premium Locker Room. Interestingly, many gyms have a regular locker, and for those willing to shell out the extra cash, a "premium" locker room. So what's the difference? Well, everything's the same except for one thing. The premium locker room has this little area when you go in, with couches and a TV.

Honestly, who goes to the gym to chill on a couch in the locker room and watch TV?!? The crazy part is, people actually pay for this "upgraded" locker room! At my gym, you actually can't even get in this locker room with a special code!

7. Noise Makers. You all know who I'm talking about. These are the guys who feel the need to let the entire gym know that they are busting there ass and putting up superhuman amounts of weight.

I mean, some grunting is ok, even necessary sometimes, but common! These guys yell out a set, then walk around like they're the Worlds Strongest Man.

6. Form Doesn't Count. I'd say 50-60 percent of people at the gym use poor form. It's usually mostly guys who are trying to put up insane amounts of weight they have no business touching. If you look at the people doing the most weight at the gym, frequently you'll notice they don't look the strongest. That's because they're practically throwing their back swinging the bar up to do bicep curls!

I knew a guy in college like this. He had the gall to come up to me once in the gym and said, "This can't hold me down man!" I'm thinking, " well maybe if you squated down more than two inches you'd realize you're doing doing too much weight when your knees buckle!

5. Cell Phone Users and Book Readers. Seriously, how good of a workout can you be getting if you're on the phone or reading a book during you're exercise. If you can concentrate on a book or have an extended conversation during your exercise, you're not only not working hard enough, but you're wasting your time.

4. Not reracking the weights. I consider myself moderately strong, but when Mike Muscles decideds to leave the 500 lbs of weights he's loaded on the bar, he's not doing me any favors. By the time I remove all the extra weight, I'm already tired! To top it off, I don't want to screw over the person after me, so I am not only cleaning up his mess, but my own as well.

3. Proper fitting clothes. Have you ever noticed that the two groups of people who most often wear poor fitting clothes are the slightly overweight/out of shape, and the REALLY overweight?

The Chubbies somehow seem to think that wearing a shirt three sizes too big will cover up the fact that they are obese. WRONG! Not only do you still appear large, but now you have no style. Wearing bedsheets as clothing may cover some rolls, but they make you look even bigger!

Then there's the guys who think they're in really good shape, but are actually a little pudgy. They wear the ultra tight Under Armor in an attempt to show off their muscles when its blatently obvious that they are not exactly male models.

2. The water bottle fill. After a tough set, a nice refreshing drink of water is always nice. Just hope you don't get stuck behind one of those people with a larger water bottle. I have no problem with people filling their bottles at the fountain, but do you honestly have to fill up to the very edge while people are waiting?

If it's more than half full, can't you step aside for me to get a 3-second sip?

1. The Sweaty Mess. There's nothing worse than getting on a machine recently vacated Sonny Sweats. Yes, he's the guy who marks his territory by sweating on every machine he uses and doesn't clean up. As pleasent as he must think his sweat is, I have enough of my own, thank you very much.

And that is the top ten list of the day. Neurotic? Yes. Over the top? Probably. But a good rant every now and then feels great!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

How to Become Moderately Strong

If you've read my story about losing weight and getting healthy you know that I enjoy working out. A big part of my workout routine is weight lifting. Initially I used strength training as a tool in losing weight, however I did go through phases where I used it to GAIN strength and muscle.

Ok Ok, I know. I'm not exactly Arunold Swartzenegger, but I would say that I'm stronger than the average bear.

I've been lifting for about seven years, and over that time have learned quite a bit about strength training, both through literature and through working out and speaking with a lot of experts. In college, I used to workout at a gym whose members were exclusively Power lifters and Bodybuilders...and me.

Previously, I considered myself pretty knowledgeable, but learned even more about muscle building while working out here. I used to feel pretty strong working out at Cal Poly, but these guys were freaking animals!

I pretty much went through two phases in my life where I put on a lot of muscle. The first was when I first started lifting. Despite not knowing anything about weight lifting and having pretty bad form, I gained muscle. This initial gain happens to anyone who has previously never done any sort of consistent weight training before.

The second was when I started working out at this little whole-in-the-wall gym, Estrada's, during my fourth year of college. I learned some new techniques, changed my diet, and bodda-bing! Regular Arun became Super Arun! So lets learn about how to get strong, shall we?

Probably the most important aspect in making gains, and continuing the make gains is your diet. To put it simply, to make big gains YOU HAVE TO EAT! As I mentioned before, no matter what you do or how you eat, initially you will gain strength as a result of your body being shocked from this new stimulus. However to maintain those gains and continue getting stronger, you have to eat, eat, eat!

This doesn't mean eat whatever the hell you want just to get calories. I knew a couple of guys who were so gung-ho about gaining muscle, they started working out, and eating everything under the sun! I'm talking cake with dinner, two scoops of ice-cream in their protein shakes, icing on their pot-brownies, everything! Well they did make big muscle gains, but they also started getting chubby. You can also imagine the high levels of sugar, cholesterol, triglycerides, and fats that must have been flowing in their blood!

Personally, I'm not super muscle bound is because I eat moderate amounts of food and like the way I feel better than I do when I'm heavier. Nimble and fleet-footed (and sexy) Arun is better at things like Tennis, Golf and Basketball than Big Strong (and sexy) Arun.

The key is eating lean complex carbohydrates and lean protein. Spread your meals out throughout the day so your body never starves (otherwise it may start tapping into your hard earned muscle for fuel). About 1 gram of protein per pound you weigh is sufficient. People get carried away with protein intake! Anymore than that will just be turned into fat or burned off! Your muscles need both protein and carbs to get stronger. Remember, you are what you eat! Aim for gaining a pound every 1-2 weeks.

Also, eating a small snack with both protein and carbs before working out will help fuel your muscles. It is also essential to get a meal (even if its just a protein shake) within forty minutes of finishing your workout! This time frame is known as your "anabolic period." Basically, your glycogen and glucose levels are depleted. If you don't replenish soon, your body secretes cortisol which breaks down muscle to produce glucose. Suffice to say, this is BAD!

The Workout
I'm not going to get into different routines and exercises (because that in itself would be an entire book), but there is some basic knowledge that you should know.

Never train the same muscle group more than twice a week (I do each once per week). Over training is a common problem that will only hinder your progress. Guess when your muscle grows the most? Believe it or not, it's when you're sleeping. This is when testosterone levels are the highest, and thus the time when the most muscle repair is going on! And speaking of over training, each workout should be no more than one hour.

In terms of order of exercises, large, compound movements should be done first, with smaller isolation exercises at the end. Think of it as building a house. You wouldn't install the kitchen appliances before building the house frame would you? You need to build the house before painting it. Similarly, compound exercises that use larger muscles and more muscles (ie Squats, Deadlifts, Bench Press) should be done first before isolation exercises which tend target smaller muscles.

The most effective repetition range for building strength is anywhere from 4-10 reps. You should change up your rep range each week to keep your body off balance. The minute your body gets used to the stimuli, you will stop getting stronger which is why you need to consistantly change it up! Between six to nine sets per muscle group is sufficient per week.

Lastly, use proper form! I can't tell you how many Toolbags I see in the gym throwing obscene amounts of weight around that they have no business touching! Always use a slow, controlled pace and make sure that the target muscle is being worked! Using bad form is begging for an injury. (Wow, thinking about this has gotten me fired up! I think there may be a gym etiquette rant coming soon!!!)

A lot of people harp on what supplement is best and which to use. If you open any of a number of "muscle magazines" you'll be bombarded by supplement advertisements. Personally, I'm not a big fan of supplements. The only thing I use is Whey Protein Powder for a shake immediately after working out. Whey protein is quickly absorbed into the blood which is why its great for a post workout snack.

I've tried creatine before and thought it only moderately helpful and not worth the money. Also, I don't particularly like supplementing with products the body naturally produces, because the body will then, thinking the product is in excess, decrease its own production of the product (like creatine). Save your money!

Well that's the very basics of putting on muscle. There's a lot more out there to learn, but I couldn't possibly cover it all in only one post! If there's a lot of interest, maybe I'll write a follow up with more specifics.

If you need some inspiration, let me know and I'll send you a picture of myself flexing for you :)

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Damn that Short-Term Memory

Anytime I'm out and about, I try to meet as many people as possible. I talk to girls, guys and even the animals. It's something I love to do. There is only one small problem with meeting lots of people in a short amount of time. You forget who you've met and who you haven't.

Take last week for example. After spending all day skiing at Mammoth Mountain, a few of us decide to go out to one of the local bars. While I was there, I took the opportunity to talk to as many people as possible. I met people from all over! LA, San Diego, Denver, New York, Canada...everywhere!

Honestly, I am a man, so naturally much of my conversating may have been with attractive women in the bar. Unless I'm totally drawn to someone, or a group of people, I like to sort of make a "first pass" and meet everyone for a few minutes, then later when I see them again, we chat like old friends.

That is, if I remember meeting them. Note to guys out there: once you've introduced yourself to a girl, try not to introduce yourself to her again! They are generally not too thrilled when you forget. I met a girl from Colorado soon after I got to the bar. About an hour later I bumped into her again, only I wasn't sure if I had met her or not.

We started chatting and when I asked where she was from, she gave me a light slap in the chest and a disgusted look as if I was supposed to remember. As soon as she did that it all came flooding back, but it was too late! She wanted no part of me.

Cross this one off the list.

The thing is, I have a MAJOR disadvantage for remembering a lot of different people in a short period of time. I mean, how many times have you seen a tall Indian guy out and about, doing Michael Jackson moves on the dancefloor and high-fiving people he doesn't know? I feel much more recognizable than John Smith or Joe Johnson.

Yesterday, I almost made a SERIOUS blunder. I was at my favorite coffee shop, The Living Room, reading, when this cute blonde sat at the table in front of me. She was sitting with her back facing me but I had caught a glimpse of her face when she walked in.

As I got up to go talk to her, a guy walks into the coffee shop, and she gets up and gives him a hug. They go to the counter to order coffee, and by the sounds of their conversation, they're on a first date (yes I was eves dropping).


As I go back to reading, I all of a sudden realize that I know this girl! She's this nurse that I met, ironically at a Starbucks, whom I dated a couple of times before letting it die.

Wow. This guy just saved me from some SERIOUS embarrassment. I can't imagine the plethora of scenarios that would have played out had this guy not walked in at just the right time!

I have no doubt that she would've recognized me. In fact, it's pretty ridiculous that I didn't recognize her in right away.

I've come to terms that I just have "one of those faces." Luckily, I haven't met anyone that looks like me (although I do get annoyed when someone says "you look like so-and-so!" I mean, honestly! Does this drive anyone else nuts!?! If anything, so-and-so looks like ME!). If do ever find my twin though, I'll have to start some kind of magic act.