Sleeping is a Skill

young man resting in a sofa _ Horizontal

My late girlfriend used to stay awake most of the nights doing all kinds of things. When she became so tired she would sleep for just couple of hours and start the next day all energized. Those who do not know her would think that she must have slept well the night before. Little did she know that not able to sleep is both potential cause and symptom of having endocrine related illnesses, cancer included. We tried so many things to help her overcome the struggle to get better sleep. She eventually learned how to sleep well (most of the time) and it was a great triumph in helping her to stay healthy for a long period of time.

Many People Unlearned How to Sleep

When we are babies, we acquired the sleeping skill naturally since we can do absolutely nothing else. Over our life time, however, many people may have unlearned the skill because of many reasons. The most common one is having a lifestyle that keeps irregular sleeping schedule. Another is stress related anxiety that keeps the brain busy hence not able to sleep well or to fall asleep. Once the original sleeping pattern we learned from childhood is disrupted, many people can no longer find a way to get to sleep well anymore.

The trouble gets worse as many people try to improve their sleep through the use of alcohol and medications.

Drinking to get oneself to sleep works in the beginning but it will escalate to heavy drinking quickly if your not one of those lucky persons who are born with extremely low alcohol tolerance. Heavy drinking cannot get one to sleep. All it does is making you black out for couple of hours and the aftershock will make you wake up yet not able to sleep again.

Using medications also “works” if you consider turning into a zombie is actually sleeping. These drugs usually just turn off your senses (in greatly simplified terms) for specific amount of time. It helps people who desperately needing some sleep. The problem, however, is that such form of sleep is not a real sleep that our bodies need. Many of these sleeping pills have so many side-effects that they are now blamed for causing all kinds of illnesses themselves. One of common side-effects is that you cannot stop taking the drug or you will have very bad withdrawal symptoms including not able to sleep at all. Another side effect is that you will have serious memory loss after prolonged usage of such drugs.

Enough Sleep is Necessary for Longevity

During sleep our bodies repair itself. This is especially important for our brain to function properly. Only certain stage of sleep where our brain can go into its daily cleansing routine. Thus, people whose work is heavily analytical (e.g. trading) would have their performance degraded badly if they do not have enough sleep. I mentioned a hack to deal with lack of sleep by inducing sleep like behaviour in our brain.

When we are sick, it often reduces our ability to sleep well due to the ailments the illness is causing. But then the lack of enough sleep would induce further weaknesses with our immune system. So, it is just way too easy to go into the spiral down effect in terms of our health once you failed to keep your sleeping quality up.

If we have to choose between enough sleep and having enough exercise, my take is that enough sleep is always more important, given that you do in general have enough exercise most of the time. Remember, it is very easy to maintain or improve your overall health by integrating exercise into your daily lives. Going to the gym is completely overrated if you do not have the luxury due to a very hectic schedule.

Just like any other life decisions, be aware of the long term implications of depriving yourself of sleep so that you can schedule sleep just like you schedule exercise into your daily activities. This approach to sleep will go a long way in improving your quality of life.

Learning How to Sleep for the First Time

For those of you who are already in trouble on getting to sleep, there are countless number of approaches out there to help you to fall asleep.

One very consistently successful approach is to keep a bed time routine so that you can ease your mind into a stage that you know you have to go to sleep in certain amount of time. Many people simply wait until they seriously need to sleep as they cannot even keep their eyes open and then they go to bed. That’s exactly how one unlearn sleeping in the first place. The way we learned to sleep as a baby is that we are trained to be in an immobile position first, having the comfort on a bed or being hold onto a secure position and then we fall asleep.

So go search on youtube or whatever about sleeping routines. Many famous gurus like Tim Ferriss have videos on their sleeping routines all explained. There is no need for me to duplicate the effort here. Just watch some of them and see if you can create your own routine so that you can sleep better.

Many people who tried various strategies to get better sleep often give up when they do not see results the first few days. Somehow all these methods just seems not working for them. What they do not understand is that they are likely already unlearned how to sleep. It is like you are bed ridden for months and try to walk again. It can take days or even weeks to gain the sleeping skill back.

One great example illustrating the point is the switching of sleep schedule for those who have no problem sleeping in the first place. It takes usually 3 to 4 days to reprogram our minds to the new schedule, even if it is just 2 to 3 hours off from the original one. For those people who have trouble going to sleep in the first place, there is no real switching to a new schedule at all because they just cannot tell if there is a schedule change.

In short, it is important to have patience in training yourself to get to sleep. Do everything you have learned to improve your sleep and tough it out like you are training yourself with a rigorous exercise regime. Any improvement you get with your ability to sleep better will benefit yourself for the rest of your life. It’s worth it.

Tools to Assist Our Sleep

One recurring pattern I see with people whose health is extremely compromised is that they cannot sleep unless there is strong heat generated around them for couple of hours. For example, those people who are going through cancer treatments often feel coldness when they try to sleep. But that in turn makes it very difficult for them to sleep well as it feels so cold that they wake up from shivering. And it is not that they are not dressed properly or that they do not have blankets to keep them warm. It is the fact that they cannot generate enough heat themselves from inside their bodies.

Using regular heat fan or turning up the heat in the room does not help because they have the negative effect of drying up the air we breath in which can wake us up from dry throat.

The better solutions I found help a lot in this situation are heating equipment that target our bodies directly.

First, there are the heating blankets that cover on top of us. Those ones help but not very effective because the real coldness actually happens on the back of our bodies. In Chinese medicine point of view, when our heart lung functions are weak, the first sign is coldness radiating from our back directly behind the centre of our torso. Hence, putting the heating blankets underneath us work better. However, these heating blankets suffer the same issue as the regular heat fan for which they dry up the air nearby.

And then there is the bed warmer systems that are either water based or air based. These systems pump the warmed water or air into tubes that form a mesh, usually in the form of a mattress cover. These systems provide consistent warmth without the drawback like the blankets. I have recommended these systems to a number of people who have trouble sleeping and they did wonders for these people.

Finally, there is the biomat method which is based on something totally different from the other products mentioned above. There are a number of companies making these mats with far-infrared that help the person using them to generate heat within themselves. By far, I found these mats work the best and the improvement in sleep quality (and overall health) for many people has been amazing.

Supplements to Assist Our Sleep

Another approach to helping one sleep is the use of medications. As I explained earlier, the prescription stuff are not likely a good idea if you do not want long term side effects to get you eventually. However, there are many natural supplements out there that can help us. As long as the supplement is made with quality raw materials and no toxic fillers, you can safely use them without the side effects associated with the prescription drugs.

Remember that these supplements can assist us to get to sleep or improving the overall quality of sleep (I will explain later the difference), they cannot make you sleep. Sleeping is a function of our minds. If you have lost the skill to sleep, you have to train yourself to get it back.

One common supplement to help us sleep better is Melatonin. Many people tried using it and the results are totally mixed. After reading this article up to this point, you should know the reason. Melatonin can help only if you still know how to go into sleep. It promotes sleepiness, not knocking you out like the sleeping pills. Another aspect of using melatonin is that you cannot use too much of it. Many people buy the maximum dose ones hoping they work better. Well, it does not work that way. Too much melatonin in our system can lead to “after shock” where you are more awake several hours later if you are not asleep by then.

In Chinese medicine, there are at least 5 to 6 types of herbal medicine that promotes better sleep. There are also 3 to 4 types of herbs that putting us at ease to get us to sleep. All of them has to be used in moderation and has to have breaks if they are used for prolong period of time. For example, many of these herbs should be used at most for 2 weeks time and then one has to stop taking them for a week. Or, you can go with taking them 5 days a week and stop using them during weekends. It is not because of toxicity of the herbs that you need to take these “medicine holidays” like those chemo drugs. The need to take breaks is because of the build up of natural resistance of these substance. Continuous usage will lead to your body no longer reacting to the supplements with the desired effects.

So, it is alright to try out various herbal supplements to see which one works for you. Just remember that you should take breaks from using them so that their effectiveness on you can be maintained.

Falling Asleep is a Skill, Staying Asleep is Something Else

Out of the many sleeping issues, from Chinese medicine point of view, the one that actually stop people from having a good night of sleep is actually the ability to stay asleep. Yep, failing asleep can be trained but if you wake up some 5 minutes later because of your body is telling you that you must wake up you will be stuck with another night of no sleep until the sun rise.

To help us staying asleep, the environment plays an important role. Usually, people who are too deprived from sleep would crash to sleep for many hours from time to time. But that is not enough to repair the damage that has been done to their bodies. When they feel better after these black out type of sleep, they would return to the same problem of not able to stay asleep. That can often be resolved by making the sleeping environment more sleep friendly.

One very common practice nowadays is putting a TV in the bedroom facing the bed. And for some others, the dresser with a huge mirror facing the bed again. These objects, together with many shiny items, are your worst enemies in keeping you in sleep. In Chinese astrology, there are other bad implications with the arrangement but the most basic issue of not having a good night of sleep is now confirmed by Western research that we human indeed detect the reflections from these objects and react to them while we are sleeping. Hence, the disruption of our sleep by these objects in the night is a reality.

It is easy to resolve this problem. Just cover them with dark non-reflecting cloth materials when we are getting ready to go to sleep. If possible keep the room in absolute darkness. Using very deem night light only if it is necessary. Since everyone has a different tolerance level of light reflection while sleeping, it takes experiment to figure out your comfort level. Personally I can sleep in broad day light with no problem at all while I know some friends who need total darkness in a room to stay in sleep.

There are many factors affecting our sleeping environment like the room temperature, humidity, sound and smell. By controlling these four factors, one can create a “sleep mode” where one feel safe to sleep just like they are experiencing the comfort feeling when they are babies. I know someone who must use certain kind of aromatic smell at night to get to sleep and stay in sleep as well. There are many others who need certain kind of sound as a background noise to keep them sleeping because of their sensitivity in hearing other sound.

There are several Chinese herbs that are prescribed to patients to reduce the sensitivity of their senses while asleep which in turn improve the sleep quality a lot. I have not seen supplements made from these herbal ingredients yet. If I see that being offered in the supplement market, I will mention that in future post.

Better Mood, Better Health, Better Life

Take your time to figure out what you need to get yourself to sleep and keep yourself sleeping. Make this a project, a goal, for yourself. If there is something rewarding that is very much achievable, I guess sleeping is one of them.

I don’t think I need to talk about the many benefits of better sleep. After all, you are reading this article all the way up to this point. What I like to say is that better sleep leads to better mood and better health. And that goes a long way in improving your life and likely the ones around you.

Soy Sauce: It Can Be the Reason You are Bloated


Many people use soy sauce in their cooking and at the dining table without thinking much about it. It is so common in Asian cuisines that it is assumed to be safe for everything. Well, it is not.

Soy sauce is a fermented product. We know very well from Chinese medical point of view that a person with any form of injury or internal inflammation should avoid fermented food at least until after the wound is closed up or that the inflammation is gone. However, many people would not notice that they are eating fermented food when they prepare their food with soy sauce. That’s one of the reasons why it takes so long for some people to recover from a simple shoulder injury (or post exercise stiffness) even if they cautiously avoiding food that is known to keep the inflammation staying longer. The most common form of reactions to soy sauce due to internal inflammation is bloating.

There is also this growing issue of soy sauce allergy. There are more and more cases of allergy reactions to soy sauce that were unnoticed before. Only until after some people actually go for allergy testing due to allergy reactions to other allergens like gluten that they discover that they are allergy to soy sauce as well. If you do have such problems, try switching to organic non-GMO soy sauce to see if the problem goes away. Many people I talked to actually have no allergy reactions since they switched.

Dining out at a non-Asian restaurant no longer guarantee that you are safe from soy sauce. Many Western restaurants prepare their food with a hint of soy sauce to improve the favour. So telling your server at the restaurant that you don’t want your food prepared with soy sauce can often help. One classic way to reduce the soy influence on our bodies is drinking green tea. If you find you are very bloated several hours after dining out at a Chinese restaurant, and that drinking green tea right after can bring you back to normal, you know you need to avoid or reduce soy sauce in your diet.

Finally, just try using simple sea salt or going fancy with Himalayan pink salt instead of using soy sauce for favouring. If you have never tried that, you will discover a whole new dimension of taste from the original ingredients that were masked out by soy sauce.

Seriously, putting soy sauce on everything is kind of boring, isn’t it?

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Taking Supplement or Not

Assorted pills

It is very interesting how divided people are in terms of taking health related supplements. Many older people hold the belief that these supplements are just snake oil that the big companies created to grab more money from gullible people. Some other people, especially those whose health are compromised, keep on seeking for better supplements to relief their pains, insomnia and other ailments. The big question boils down to one thing though – are you knowledgeable enough to make the right decision for yourself whether you need supplement or not.

Many Supplements Actually Work

Many classic supplements, especially the ones made with natural ingredients, work. And most of us actually eat them in one form or another. The very flavourful soup you drank when you were young, the traditional fermented food from your home country and those special cocktail of stuff in your herbal tea for treating your cold are all functional supplements, in a way. The old ways in making these digestible stuff to augment our health still work but it takes time and lots of effort to prepare them. Technology and medical science has taken on these tasks, resulting in readily available forms of these supplements.

However, we have a new issue to deal with as it gets much easier to access to these health supplements. Namely, there are so many kinds of supplements and so many brands to choose from. It is very difficult to figure out which one to take and what is actually suitable for your situation.

Everyone Needs Some Form of Supplements to Stay Healthy

Once a person has reached their prime of 30 years old, the ability to absorb nutrients declines. This belief comes straight from traditional Chinese medicine and is confirmed by Western medical science with better details. This very simple fact contributes a lot to the aging process. Think about this. When you cannot absorb the same quantity of nutrients from the same amount of food you eat, you are starving your body from what is needed to maintain it in top healthy state. Slowly, the deficiency in certain types of essential nutrients will cause sickness in you without you knowing. It is exactly like the story of boiling a frog.

One good example is vitamin D deficiency which was told to me by a nurse managing research cases on patients with long term illnesses. Tons of people living in Canada and other regions of the world where sunlight is not there for the better half of each year rarely get enough vitamin D. Worse yet, as one ages, the ability to absorb sunlight to convert that into vitamin D declines quickly. It takes an elderly much longer time under the sun to get the same benefit like a young adult. One can eat to get enough vitamin D but one has to be aware of the issue in the first place to make sure their diets taking care of that.

The surprising issue with long term mild vitamin D deficiency is feeling depressed. When someone feels down they tend to stay home which in turn further reduce their exposure to sunlight that is essential in generating vitamin D themselves through their skin. Another form of the mild depressed state is the increase in anxiety. I can keep on going of the problems one will get from this one simple issue which can take forever to write. The main point is that we can become very ill from causes we are not aware of, even though you may consider yourself having a relatively healthy lifestyle.

To help patients with long term illnesses that keep them bed ridden, vitamin D is often prescribed now to keep these patients out of mood swings and improve their recovery speed. It works wonder and the approach is adopted in many places in the world.

But if you can keep yourself healthy in the first place by taking vitamin D supplement, why not?

Know Yourself for Real

People often take supplements when they feel something is not right with their bodies. Other times, it is recommended by the family physician after regular body check up. One common recommendation by physicians is taking calcium supplement for women that are 40 years or older as a preventive measure. But can you do more to help yourself?

In fact, yes you can figure things out before it gets to the point it is affecting your health. You can ask for comprehensive checking on your blood profile on both essential nutrients and hormone levels. In Canada, such tests can be ordered by our family physician without extra costs. In many other countries, it will cost you but I think it is well worth it.

One reason why supplements are getting so many bad reps is that people are taking them based on observed symptoms. But many symptoms are common among many kinds of ailments you may be having. In other words, you are guessing what your actually underlying issue is without the proper scientific background nor the complete picture of the situation like having your blood profile on hand. Your pick of supplements will likely be whatever last pop science article or video suggested instead of well informed decision.

So, in fact you can use trial and error method until you find the supplements you need. It takes a long time to get the right combination. Just be patient and learn to study yourself by recording how you feel over time so that you can eventually figure out what you need.

Or, you can use the more scientific approach with blood profile and other biometric measures (i.e. blood pressure, oxygen concentration level, etc.) to see what you need and target those deficiencies right from the beginning.

Personal Preference

I prefer taking supplements that are basically food over the highly refined pills coming from these brand names that have very expensive price tags. It is not because I do not believe that they work. In fact, I know many of these brands work very well. The main concern is that from my background in Chinese medicine, I know these highly concentrated dose of nutrients or stimulants would overdrive the liver (not just the liver as in Western medical science, I am talking about the liver system as in Chinese medicine) over time. In other words, continuous usage of such supplements may eventually cause your liver problems years down the road as suggested by Chinese medicine theories. Again, it is just my personal opinion so if you do not agree to what I say here, move on.

I treat taking supplements similar to taking medicines for sickness with same kind of care. I make such I know what I put into my body but I am also willing to experiment with different supplements to see the effects first hand. Sometimes things just do not workout the way I expected. I certainty hope that whatever I am doing now can help me staying fit and active by the time I am at my 80s.

If you are getting to middle age or older like me, and interested in maintaining good health in years to come. It may be the right time now to educate yourself about health supplements so that you can make informed decisions yourself. In this era of chronic diseases everywhere, safe guarding our health is a challenge we should all take very seriously.

Breathe: Do You Know How?


We all breathe but it is rare that people are breathing correctly. The difference is clear and the impact on health and mental clarity is very significant. Yet, no one spend time to talk about it at all. Well, for one, talking about basic of the basics generate no buzz. So, here it is on how to breathe right.

Most people breath by simply relaxing their chest hence air flow in. Naturally, you will let the air out as your brain detected signals from your lungs that the oxygen intake is used up. Yep, your brains and bodies are doing that with every single breathe you take. But there is a problem with that, you are using just 25-30% of your lung capacity on each breathe. You are providing bare minimal supply of oxygen to your brain and your body.

By practicing the following simple breathing exercise for 2 weeks, you will reprogram your body and your mind to increase the average air intake to at least 45%-60% of your lung capacity. Do not underestimate this change – we are talking about 100% increase or even more in terms of air intake volume, or oxygen supply going into your body. This does wonders to your health. If your daily activities include a lot of mental work (e.g. having a desk job), you will see marked improvements in your ability to concentrate as well.

1. Preferred to lie down somewhere. If you are doing this first thing you open your eyes, you are already on the bed. Try not to do this when you are going to sleep because it can make you more awake thus delaying your bed time.

2. Breathe in by pushing your stomach/ tummy out first until it reaches 70% to 80% from the maximum you can do when pushing hard.

3. Then expand your chest to continue the breathe in process until your chest is at least 60% to 80% from the maximum you can do with expanding your chest from breathing in.

4. Relax and let the air out slowly. If you can control it to take as long as the breathe in time, it is a bonus.

5. Repeat the breathing for at least 30 times.

Remember your lungs and the muscles surrounding it are just like the rest of your body. They can be trained to become stronger and more flexible. The breathing exercise above will strengthen your respiratory system and teach your brain to breathe like this method when you are not practicing it deliberately. The more you do it, the faster it will become a natural part of you.

Note: I was talking to my son the other day that I suddenly remember this is actually one of the fundamental breathing work that one has to learn before doing all the more complex ones. I guess we all tend to forget about things that is already a part of yourself.

Stress-Free Way to Fitness


Many middle aged and older people do not exercise regularly. When they do think of getting in shape, the usual choice has always been going to the gym in Westernized societies. Interestingly, from my personal experience helping people to gain back their fitness, going to the gym is actually counter-productive and often leading to unnecessary injuries. To get in shape, it is more about proper planning than the short term drive to look and feel better.

Doing a Little Here and There

When I am asked by others on how to get in shape, they always focus on a particular type of activities. Here are a few good examples.

“I like to get in shape. I heard that you practice Tai Chi. I learned that Tai Chi is good for health. Can you teach me Tai Chi?”

“What exercise you are doing to stay fit? I like to try that.”

Being someone very thorough with whatever I do. I usually ask a lot of questions to see the fitness level with these individuals. For those who are really out of shape, my suggestion has always been “doing a little here and there” is enough for the first few months.

Younger readers will probably think that I am messing with them. No, I am not. For people very out of shape, there is no one type of exercise that can improve their health quickly. The best choice is to integrate more activities into their lifestyle as oppose to having specific training sessions.

First, just one 15-minute training in the gym will usually drive 90% of these individuals away. It can be the humiliation. It can be the hard reality of huffing and puffing after very mild exercise. It can be many other things as well. But the theme is the same, the experience is so discouraging that they likely resent doing it again.

Second, scheduling oneself to go to a gym is creating the pre-condition to not going there. All the extra efforts needed to get to a gym provided so many possible excuses in the future to skip the sessions. In other words, it is an idea that is destined to failure for most people with the rare exception of those with very strong will and determination.

How to Get Started

It can all start from waking up in bed. Instead of getting out of it at once, you can simply tighten your stomach 10 to 20 times while still lying on the bed. Many people struggle to open their eyes anyway before they can get out of bed, that time window is perfect for simple stomach tighten activity.

While doing the morning routine in the washroom, or at the kitchen, adding a few squats here and there does not hurt. It does not have to be perfect. The goal is not training for very strong muscles. The goal is to wake the muscles up and get them more active in general.

Walk a bit more instead of sitting all day in front of the work desk helps.

Keep an alarm to tell yourself it is time to take a break from your desk and do some mild stretching also helps.

Repeating my point – to get better health, it does not have to be going straight for the hard core exercise with sweat and pain. It can come from just a bit more active to get things started. Key to success in transforming a life without exercise is to add them in a way that is stress-free with positive feedback.

The Power of Doing Just a Little

So the next question people usually ask is whether doing just a little helps. My observation is that it makes all the difference. Usually people who started integrating micro exercises in their lives will have more energy and more alert in just couple of weeks. In about a month, they would have built the foundation to do more as they have achieved minimal fitness needed for more rigorous exercises.

The most interesting thing though, is that there is really no need to do extra exercises at this stage either. All it takes is making the micro exercise activities harder. For example, there is no need to do stomach tightening many more repetitions. Just tighten and hold a little longer each time will do. Doing squats follow a similar upgrade path by doing it in better forms and dropping lower each time.

This cycle of upgrading the efforts can take a few months. Once the optimal level is reached, it is really up to the person to see if they want more in terms of physical fitness. Some people desire the body of an athlete. Some people don’t. Having an active lifestyle can be enough for majority of people whose intention is to become healthier and feel better.

Stress-Free Approach Takes Planning

What I suggested here is no difference from helping someone with traumatizing injuries or post surgery conditions. Physiotherapists know that it takes time to rebuild someone with weak body conditions. But normal people do not know how out of shape they are until their physical finesses being challenged. By understanding what to aim for, as I lay out the approach and overall progression method, there is really no excuse not to help yourself to get in shape.

Seriously, no money in the world can replace our health.

Benefits of Alkaline Water from Personal Experience

Water bubble and waves

We’ve all heard about alkaline water in some way through the internet or some new age health conscious friends. What many people do after they heard about it though is researching about it online and probably found the benefits being inconclusive. After all, the alkaline water machines in general are quite pricey. Buying a machine that supposedly giving you health benefit that you cannot even detect is not a very smart move. Well, I have done it and my personal experience with using alkaline water can be useful in helping you decide if you need to try it.

What Led Me to Try Alkaline Water

It is difficult to pinpoint when I first encountered the term alkaline water. People in Asian has been talking about eating more alkaline stuff for a long time but their beliefs in the subject is very voodoo. To be honest, I think they took whatever new age bullshit and mixed that up with their superstitious beliefs to produce their version of “alkaline cult”. Being a very scientific person, I cannot accept what they are preaching at all.

The very first time I tried using alkaline water, was like a decade ago. My late girlfriend was very sick in bed from one of her many surgeries. She could not even sit up from the bed by herself as the operation was done in the abdominal area. Two of her friends, a couple, brought her many bottles of water. These are bottles of alkaline water. I was told to let my girlfriend drink only this alkaline water, preferably boiled. And all food that I made for her should be made with this alkaline water. They promised to bring more to keep the regime going for the next two weeks.

Evidence I Saw with My Own Eyes

Since my late girlfriend had regular home visit by nurses and doctors multiple times a week with blood work also done frequently, we found out that she recovered much faster since switching to using alkaline water. Her surgery site healed at doubIe (if not faster) than the normal speed. I have my share of injuries, including life threatening ones, hence I know quite well how normal wounds would heal. Her blood work also showed much improvement in her absorption of nutrients from the food. I was essentially cooking the same thing for her except the alkaline water.

I have no doubt it was the alkaline water than made the difference. Her speedy recovery led us to our journey in trying out alkaline water in many other things since. Over the years we have also bought various alkaline water machines with varying results. Thus, even if you are thinking of using alkaline water regularly, there is also this hurdle of picking the better machines.

Absolute Advantage vs. Marginal Improvement

I believe alkaline water would not benefit majority of people in general. The reason is quite simple. Most people do not eat healthy enough but their healthy digestive system allows them to do so. Normal people can take supplements and other pills to get whatever is missing from their diet. My belief is that the main benefit of alkaline water, which has an uncertain quality of improvement over normal water, can only be an increase by certain percentage in improving our absorption ratio of water and the nutrients carried in our food. It will not be significant enough to show a difference in normal healthy people.

When someone is very sick, old or weak in digestion ability in general, they cannot eat and drink as much. Taking pills is also likely difficult. In their situation, alkaline water allows these people getting a significant boost to health by allowing them to absorb more from the limited amount of food they can eat. Of course, this is my speculation only.

In short, I think alkaline water provides marginal improvement over regular water only. Drinking it regularly, may not provide the absolute advantage like many people suggested. If you are a normal healthy person who already taking good care of yourself, using alkaline water will not make a big difference for you.

When Taste Matters

Coffee tastes better, much better, when brewed with alkaline water. This I know for sure. Food cooked in very mild favours also tastes better when prepared with alkaline water. For food with very strong or intense favours, the difference is not clear between using regular water and alkaline water. I will put it this way – alkaline water helps magnifying the freshness in the food we cooked.

Personally, I did not even remember the difference in taste of the coffee until my recent move. I could not install my alkaline water machine in my new place for several months due to the fact that all the faucets are made in a way not allowing me to hook up my machine. During that time, I was forced to switch back to use regular filtered water. That was the time I realized I was spoiled by my coffee made with alkaline water.


I prefer using alkaline water but it is not a necessity for me at this time. However, I am sure alkaline water played an important role in keeping my late girlfriend healthy for many years. I would recommend anyone with family members having compromised health conditions to give alkaline water a try.

You do not even need to buy an alkaline water machine to see if it works for you. There are bottled water that are more alkaline than the others, just search online for the brands. You may even ask around to see if any of your friends already have an alkaline water machine so that you can collect like a week long supply to experiment with alkaline water.

Bad Eyesight


I was very proud of my good eyesight for many years. I am not talking about 20/20 vision here. Several years ago when I was at my early 40s, I still have 20/10 vision. No glasses needed all my life, well, until last year. Upon reflection it is an important event, for me, to share with everyone.

Better My Eyes Were, Worse I Exploited Them

With very good eyesight, I did not follow any advice to protect my eyes at all. I often read in the dark for hours just because I can. I chose to use dim lighting most of the time for the same reason.

I did not protect my eyes from extreme tiredness. Working on computers for many hours without a break was the norm for me.

In short, I exploited my own eyes as if they would never break.

Presbyopia Catches Me Finally

Since second half of last year, suddenly I need reading glasses to read from my computer screen and from reading books or even labels with smaller prints. It happened so suddenly that I was kind of caught completely off guard. In short, Presbyopia, a condition for which deterioration of the ability to see things clearly close to the eyes due to aging, has finally caught me.

The inconvenience caused by Presbyopia is mainly the need of reading glasses everywhere. Originally I thought I do not need them when I went out. Yet, as I try to buy something I often cannot see letters on some of the tiny price tags. When I need to read the description or details on a label for anything, I will have a very hard time putting the item at the right distance to read those damn words.

Blind Spot of Our Minds

According to a friend who is an ophthalmologist (eye surgeon), if I protect my eyes properly, I would be able to keep going without glasses probably for the rest of my life. My exploitations of my eyes led not only to aging them by 10 to 15 years, I also likely damaged some of the muscles supporting the eyes. I have no one else to blame but me.

Seriously, who would have thought of the consequence when they do not have the experience of the inconvenience of Presbyopia in the first place?

Well, I should have. I took so much proud on my ability to manage risk in trading and long term investing for not just myself but also large sum of money from my clients. Yet I do not see this coming.

I know the importance of staying healthy and took the time and measures to keep myself fit. Yet I did nothing to ensure my eyes would function at their best when I need them most, when I am getting old.

This is a blind spot in my mind. Because I did not see the existence of the risk of losing my eyesight, I blocked all the information regarding eye care from entering my mind. This is wilful ignorance.

I am sure there are other areas I have similar trouble.

From now on, I will take care of my eyes. I promise myself at least not to make the situation worse. It is the least I can do to contain the problem.

(Feature Image from Wikimedia Commons)

Settling Down After a Chaotic Week


Flying from Toronto Canada to Hong Kong is easy. In fact, way easier than traveling to United States. First and foremost, going through US customs takes at least double the amount of time. Anyhow, my hectic schedule started the very next day after I arrived.

Jet Lag and Polyphasic Sleep

I have been asked enough times about jet lag that it is something worth mentioning here.

Ever since I trained myself to sleep in biphasic sleep, jet lag is never an issue. I always get sleepy once I have nothing to do and can fall asleep easily. When I focus my mind, I can continuously work 10 to 15 hours straight. That’s the interesting benefit of training oneself to actually sleep multiple times a day.

One thing to remember though it takes time to modify one’s sleeping pattern. If you are used to sleep at least 8 hours a day and that you cannot easily squeeze out at least 45 minutes during the day for a nap, cutting short your main sleeping time will seriously affect your brain functions.

Meditation as a Sleep Replacement

Sometimes, if actual nap is not possible, there are interesting ways to refresh our mind to peak performance through other means.

If you have practiced meditation long enough and can get yourself to the state of a cleared mind quickly, you can try to induce the sleep like function in your body where it starts to flush out the chemicals generated during the day when your brain has been working hard. Key to this technique is switching to a breathing rhythm closely resemble the one that our body normally does during our sleep.

In other words, one can consciously induce the brain cleaning function without actually going into deep sleep. Your brain will be completely refreshed after a 20 minute practice of sleep breathing under meditation. Interesting isn’t it?

Hong Kong

It is considered being cold in Hong Kong right now but for someone coming from Canada, just T-shirt and jeans are perfect for me. Obviously that attracted many curious stares wondering if this guy is insane. The picture in this post is taken from the famous place in Hong Kong where they make the roasted gooses. I chose to take a picture of the mega bridge connecting the airport to the rest of the region because it is in fact a very cool piece of architecture.

My schedule will continue to be very hectic. Instead of the expected quiet down of my meetings, many more meetings are now scheduled around my original ones. An interesting development indeed since I thought not that many people would be interested in my line of work.

Have a nice weekend all!

2016 New Year’s Resolution

last_one_standingThis is the time of the year to set goals for the rest of the year. Upon reflection, last year was a transition year for me in searching for a more balanced life. I looked into many areas of interest to see what fit me best. I do not have all the answers yet and I hope in coming weeks I will figure out the direction in life for the coming few years.


Reflection from Being Depress to Being Too Busy

First thing came to my mind was the thought of retirement early last year. Retirement in the sense that I no longer take on consulting work for institutions or putting in efforts to develop various businesses. I could also limit my trading down to just  a day or two every week. I like trading and I can never imagine not being a trader going forward. The idea was to give myself more quiet time and enjoy life more after going through my life changing experience.

That idea was strike down quickly by family and friends. In fact, it was just an excuse to hide from the world to keep myself in a shell so that I could deal with my emotional issues alone. Thanks to very supportive friends and family, I snapped out of that mindset and got better since. In particular, without the kind-hearted interventions from one close friend, I would not be on my way to recover from depression.

Throughout last year, I have initiated multiple projects. Wrapping up the book Art of Chart Reading is one of them. I am still waiting for the completion of the editing process. I know it is taking longer than usual but I know the result will be a much better version that more people can learn from. Just like any other authors, I secretly hope the book will become one of the all time classics.

And then there was my initiative to mentor / coach retail traders. I see great results with half of them so far. A quarter of them still working on their progress while the rest due to various circumstances cannot really commit to their trading at this time. I am very happy with the results I see so far. It reaffirms what I believe – trading can be taught through a longer term approach as it is more a skill combining knowledge and craftsmanship.

I am contemplating this year to be the last year I will take on more traders to mentor. I have not finalized my decision yet. One reason for this is that it is very time consuming as I tailor my work to fit the individual trader’s need. This personalized approach definitely gives better results and serves the traders better. On the other hand, it puts a constraint on my time to commit to other projects.

In second half of last year, I accepted the requests from several close family friends, who were my backers way back when I first started managing money, to help them invest their money with lower risk and better returns. I ended up offering them 10 to 15 percent fixed interest on their committed capital depending on the duration of their commitment. As oppose to having them to bear the downside risk, I assumed the risk with my own capital. Using proper leverage to day trade Emini, my trading models can generate the desired performance and has been performing as expected so far.

It is nice to see that I can offer my friends an alternative investment that beats putting money in the bank. The effort to structure these arrangements is ongoing and is taking up time. From what I see, it can potentially benefit many more people, especially those who needed interest income. How to approach this in a larger scale is a tough question.

Thus, mentoring and managing money is now completing for a big chunk of my time while my unfinished writing projects over the years are still there gathering dust. I need much better time management going forward so that I can accomplish more in a shorter time span.


New Goals

As oppose to writing out a list of exact things I like to accomplish this year, my resolve is simply:

1. To identify and prioritize the tasks on hand

2. To find the direction and focus going forward

3. Have #1 and #2 finalized before middle of February so that I can efficiently execute the plan for the rest of year

On the more personal side,

4. To stay healthy by living a healthy lifestyle

5. To be there for my loved ones


First Week of 2016

Trading in first (and second) week of the year is often very confusing. Many people focus heavily on the January Effect for their investment decisions. There are also the Super Bowl indicator crowd waiting for February 7 this year to adjust their portfolios. So many superstitions and misinformation are spread in the beginning of the year to keep the media and financial outlets very busy. Hence, it is often a good idea to wait until after the first week of the year is over before resuming trading.

On the more technical side, or my trusted common sense approach, the first week of the year is the time parents scrambling with their schedules to get their kids back to school, those who went on vacations coming back gradually over the week and people recovering from hangovers and bloated stomachs. Without all the players ready for the game, it makes sense that the game is not going to function properly.

If you have to trade in first week of the year, try doing it with smaller size and ignore all the buzz generated by the media. By the end of the week, having a summary analysis of what happened over the week will be more useful than participation in the madness.


Wish Everyone Here a Very Happy New Year!