It was an unassumingly foggy Friday morning. More specifically, Friday June 14, 2013. I was driving my brother and his friends to the Lincoln Center IMAX to catch the morning show of Man of Steel on opening day.

As we were turning left on 74th St to park, a speeding cab slammed into us. We were fortunate enough to not have any major injuries. The car was beyond repair; it had been moved almost a block from the momentum of the crash.

The next day, I was cooking for the family for Father’s Day. The food turned out great (or so they said while politely declining seconds). My uncle, also my physician at the time, pulled me aside with a grave face.

I thought someone had died.

Turns out, it would’ve been me.

He received my blood test results from a few days before.

“Deep,” he started. “you need to make some major changes in your life. Otherwise, at this rate, you won’t make it to 40.”

I was speechless.

“Your cholesterol alone is enough to give an elephant a heart attack. But combined with your triglycerides and glucose levels?”

He kept talking, but my mind had already zoned out. I was in another world entirely. I kept nodding, but all I could think about was the fear I was feeling. The gripping anxiety.

I weighed in at 242 pounds.

That night, I cleaned out my fridge and restocked with only the bare essentials. I was forced to face my mortality like never before. It was fight or flight, and I chose to fight.

I cut carbs and upped my protein. My uncle gave me a handful of food suggestions, and he helped review my weekly food logs, but I was largely making it up as I went along. Ultimately, I had to do this myself, otherwise it wouldn’t stick. Nobody was telling me what to do. Also, you can’t tell me what to do.

In just a month, I had lost 10 pounds.

2 months, 20 pounds.

By October, I had lost 50 pounds.

By January of 2014, I donated all my clothes and had to restock my wardrobe.

This morning, I weighed in at 162.2 pounds.

It’s been a long and arduous journey over the last few years, for my health. Something I don’t talk about often, but I now think it’s silly to keep hidden, is that I have an auto-immune disease — Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.

Having depleted thyroid function makes it significantly harder to stay healthy, even if I do take thyroid replacement hormone every morning (and will have to continue to do so for the rest of my life). I have to watch what I eat incredibly carefully.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how far I’ve come since that car accident, partly because the sequel to Man of Steel is about to come out.

We, as society, tend to worship these perfectly chiseled bodies, and that’s not particularly healthy. It’s a line of thought that’s never been healthy for me. Even now, I’ll look at myself in the mirror one morning and still see that same 242 pound self.

How can I ever be happy with my body if I hold myself up to such impossible expectations?

I can’t.

So I accept my body and all its limitations.

I’m grateful for having gotten a second chance, and I remember it every single morning.

I hope that, by sharing this little story, I can show other people who are unhappy with their bodies after weight loss, or currently undergoing weight loss, or simply unhappy with their bodies in general, that you’re not alone. Post-weight-loss depression is especially common due to loose skin that gives the appearance of added fat and weight which isn’t really there anymore (and is exacerbated by the existence of expensive procedures that promise to cut away that loose skin and make you look perfect — procedures which most people, including myself, cannot afford).

And the unhappiness doesn’t really go away.

The trick I’ve found is to focus on being healthy. As long as you’re healthy, everything else will fall into place.

Flying with the Apple Watch
Posted on
May 26, 2015

Ideal

If I’m driving a car or taking an Uber, once I enter airport grounds, my watch gently starts taps my wrist at long intervals (if I have sound enabled, it’ll tell me as well). The frequency increases as I get closer to the exit for the terminal for my flight. (If I’m driving, I shouldn’t need to glance at my watch, as it can be dangerous. (If I’m just a passenger, I can simply glance at my watch to know which exit to take). If I need to park… well, parking is another problem to solve entirely. I’ll cover that some point in the future.

Alternatively, if I’m taking public transportation (AirTrain, for example) my watch will let the vehicle know some basic information about my flight: time of flight, airport, airline, and terminal. The vehicle will then compare it to the rest of the passengers’ itineraries and create the most efficient route to get everyone to their destinations in time for their flights. Once it’s arrived at the terminal I need to go, it announces my name, and I get off.

I’m now at the airport. I’m already checked in of course. If I have luggage to check in, I simply walk up to the automated counter, scan my boarding pass from the watch, and drop off my luggage. If my bags are overweight, it’ll ask me if I want to pay the extra fee or throw some things out. If I opt to pay, my card on file with the airline is automatically charged after a quick identity check with my watch’s fingerprint and vitals (unique heart rate signature) security.

Getting through security is easy. I’m already pre-screened to not be a security risk, so all I need to do is get my bags and my person scanned by a machine. It takes seconds, and it’s harmless.

My watch tells me which gate to go to, and the directions (although the signs in the terminal also just as helpful. And if I have virtual reality glasses or contact lenses, they just point me towards the way; that’s a story for another day, though).

I pick up some food and tea to munch on while I wait. Once I’m at the gate, and boarding is about to begin, the watch buzzes me when it’s my turn to board.

The boarding order starts with everyone who sits in the back.

Actual

I check Citymapper one more time at home as I’m about to leave to confirm that I’m taking the 7 to Woodside 61st St, transferring to LIRR to Jamaica, and then transferring to the AirTrain to JFK. It tells me the next train to Jamaica leaves at 12:45. I’ve got time. It’s 12:10.

I get to Woodside and casually stroll to the board, where it tells me the next train is at 12:25. It’s 12:23. I hurry to the ticket booth, where a kind lady sets up the credit card terminal for once I tell her I’d like a ticket to Jamaica. I swipe my card. She gives me the ticket. I hear a rumbling underneath me. It’s the train to Jamaica. I run down the stairs to Track 4, and get on the train. The doors close behind me.

Once I’m on the AirTrain, I zone out for a bit. The doors open, but there’s no announcer telling me which stop or terminal this is. I get near the doors, look outside, and notice it’s the stop for car rentals. I step back inside and wait. Passbook on my phone told me I need to go to Terminal 5. I don’t know which gate yet; that hasn’t been updated.

Once I get to the terminal, I proceed to security. I’m already checked in. Before I can enter the line for the security line, the lady asks to see my boarding pass. I show her the pass on my watch. She’s pleasantly surprised, and lets me proceed. Before I can enter the actual security line, a man points me towards the line on the right. TSA Pre-Check. Sweet. I get in line and wait for a few minutes. While I’m on line, hands are swabbed and the cartridge is put into a machine to make sure I haven’t handled any dangerous substances.

My turn! I put my phone, earbuds, and keys in my messenger bag, and place it and my duffel bag on the belt for the X-Ray scanner. Someone motions to me to step through the metal detector. All clear. My bags are all clear. I pick them up, and proceed to the nearest flight status TV. I gotta go to Gate 6.

Gotta get some food first though. I’m hungry. Oh look, there’s a Starbucks! I pay for my cold brew coffee with the Starbucks passbook pass on my watch. They write my name down as Shawn.

I go to Gate 6, but the TV shows the wrong flight. I check the flight status TV behind me. My flights been moved to Gate 3. I check my watch — the gate field still says N/A. I check my phone. Ah, there it is. A push notification telling me there was a last minute gate change.

I sit down at the gate, and wait to board. I try to scan my watch to board, but it doesn’t fit in the boarding pass scanner. I step aside, pull out my phone, and my boarding pass Passbook pass is waiting for me on the lock screen. I swipe, and scan the code. I board, and enjoy the flight.

All things considered, that was the best flying experience I’ve had to date.

The future’s almost here.

Quality of Life
Posted on
April 6, 2013

A few days ago, I was talking with a friend about “startup culture” and how tangible perks offered by many as recruiting and retainment incentives tend to define that culture. Startups of all stages often flaunt benefits such as catered lunches, gym memberships (sometimes gyms in the office), commuter reimbursement, etc.

While these lures are great, they should not drive the way of life at a company. It boils down to “work-life balance.”

Work-life balance is a term that promotes separation and prioritization. Most employers, unfortunately, expect to find your own work-life balance around the context of your job. In the current age, work-life balance is also harder to define. Technology quickly blurs a line that previously was easy to define. We are often expected to constantly be in touch with our colleagues via email, ready to jump on the nearest computer at the employer’s whim.

Work-life balance is nearly impossible to achieve, especially when you work for something you believe in. Life will always be in chaos when you love your family and your work.

Due to the complex nature of the modern career, work-life balance is something that I believe no longer applies.

In this era, there is a better term for such an idea: quality of life.

We need a work environment that enables you to maintain a positive quality of life. I want to be able to get inspiration for a work problem at midnight without worrying about coming in on time the next morning. I want to be able to visit my nephew’s last-minute cello recital in the afternoon during without worrying about half days or sick days. It starts with employer trust. Trust the employee you hired to get results instead of judging their hours. If the employee isn’t able to deliver on the results you hired them for, you have a different problem on your hands. Working long hours doesn’t get you great results. Getting great results gets you great results.

Quality of life transcends the job and the personal life.

Work environments that help promote a great quality of life should be the new normal.