Why men, women, kids, seniors and everyone SHOULD run.

Recently I’ve been tagged onto different articles on Facebook which claim that steady state cardio is bad for you, and that running on the treadmill for long durations every day will mess with your metabolic hormone, T3, and that if you’re aiming for weight loss, you should do no cardio at all. It’s interesting to read the different views on exercise by other “fitness professionals”. I do agree with a couple of points here and there, but I think that they have a very skewed view on people’s exercise goals. Not everyone is in it purely for weight loss (Not everyone should) and not everyone is in it purely for vanity (Yeah, some of us actually train to be fitter, faster and stronger). But since I am an avid marathon runner myself, this is my comment and humble opinion on cardio exercise. Before I begin, let’s just be specific. Assuming the goal is Weight Loss and the cardio workout is Running. Read on…

What is steady state cardio?

Steady state cardio is a term coined to describe a cardio workout that goes on continuously at a steady state of heart rate for a long duration. For the majority, the only steady state cardio one can achieve for a bout of 30 minutes is simply walking (~40-50% of max HR). To be able to sustain a steady state of 60% of max HR and higher, one would definitely have to train for it for quite a while to build up endurance. In one of the articles, spin class was given as an example, and I would definitely have to disagree with this one. Have you ever been in a spin class? There is NO WAY you maintain a steady state heart rate throughout that hour, if you were following the instructor correctly.

How do we lose fat?

Plenty of ways. We all know that the road to a slimmer, leaner you is a combination of exercise and good nutrition. The nutrition part of it is a bit complicated. I, myself, would refer to a dietician or a nutritionist every now and then to get my information right. But the exercise part, I can help break down for you.

Cardio is short for cardiovascular (anything relating to heart and blood vessels) and cardio exercises are any workouts that works out your heart. Your heart, like your other parts of the body, is a big muscle – the more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes. Unfortunately, it is buried deep underneath our ribs, so we can’t do dumbbell lifts with it. The only way to exercise it is to move your body fast enough so your heart starts to beat faster and you can imagine it contracting like a pump.

Resistance training encompasses any exercise using a load. It could be weights like dumbbells, barbells or machines, or it could be your own body weight (push ups, sit ups, squats). These exercises are aimed at increasing strength by working out your muscles. The more resistance training you do, the bigger the muscles your body will produce (via amino acids) to cope with the load, thus you become stronger.

Both types of exercise raises your heart rate. It all depends on intensity and repetition and duration. And as long as your heart rate is raised, and your muscles are contracting, you’re burning fat. Work yourself out hard enough, and you’ll experience Excessive Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). Cardio – do short bursts of sprints. Resistance – either increase load or increase repetition and speed.

The T3 hormone and thyroidism

Some articles claim that long term steady state cardio impairs the production of T3 hormones. These hormones, coupled with T4, are thyroid hormones, produced to regulate your body’s metabolism. Hypothyroidism is a state of too little T3+T4, whereas hyperthyroidism is a state of too much.

I have personally been through hyperthyroidism. Twice. The first time it hit me, I was 20 years old, and it came quite suddenly. I couldn’t run. I was perpetually sweating and feeling hot. I lost plenty of weight. I couldn’t run. I couldn’t run. It was quite a stressful time for me because I was not performing well in any of my races and I felt extremely flustered. Have I been running consistently before I got it? Yes. I ran almost every day, ranging from 4 to 8 kms depending on what I felt like. If steady state cardio impairs the production of T3 hormones, how did I get hyperthyroidism from running every day? I read a few articles online and asked my doctor about it, and T3+T4 hormones, as hormones do, can be triggered by many possibilities. Diet, change in lifestyle, genes, stress…anything. My grandfather has the same problem, so I think for me it was in my genes (skipped a generation though) and I was in college then so possible stress and lifestyle change played a part too.

Running

Here’s where it gets interesting (to me, at least). Can running make you fat? I really think chances of it are unlikely. Science has every proof that running, fast or slow, does not make you fat. Whether you’re going at 50% of your max HR or at 80%, you’re burning SOMETHING, how else do you get your energy to move? Newton’s law of conservation of energy states that energy cannot be created nor can it be destroyed. Your body has to burn something to get energy. And sure it may be burning up some proteins (muscle mass), but only if you have no other fuel to burn! Plus that takes forever to break down so you’ll be running very slowly if your body is fuelled by only protein. To run, your body burns up a mix of carbohydrates, fat and protein. The rule is, eat a well balanced diet and your body will know what to burn.

Is running a steady state cardio exercise? Only if you want it to be. I know a girl who beats me in every run since 2 years ago and when I asked her how she trains, she told me that because of her busy schedule, she can only do interval running. She trains about 30 minutes to an hour every other day, and when she runs a full marathon, she aces it at 3 hours 45 minutes. Is she fat? Far from it.

Where heart rate is concerned, I once wore a heart rate monitor on one of my marathons. (Many runners do actually, so you can ask them). I was told by my lecturer in Auckland university that marathoners run at about 85-95% of their max. I did not believe him. It seemed impossible to be running at such intensity for so long. So I tested myself. Wanna know what my heart rate was throughout the whole marathon? No lower than 165 bpm. That’s about 84.6% of my max at that time and I sustained it for a little over 4 hours. I didn’t believe it myself, but it’s true. Train hard enough and your cardiovascular endurance will amaze you.

High heart rate = high caloric burn. May not all be fats, but a good portion of it definitely was.

So lose weight, how?

As a personal trainer, if you tell me your goal is to lose weight, then I strongly believe in a a well balanced diet and cross training. Your body is amazing at adapting and finding the optimum efficiency so doing just one type of exercise will do you no good. Do a mix of cardio and resistance training. Throw in some weights if you like, or dance or yoga every once in a while. Build your fitness and strength up gradually and keep challenging yourself.

Don’t run for 2 hours on the treadmill at a fixed speed and gradient every day. Your body will adapt to that intensity and duration very fast, and when that happens, your caloric burn will be less (Not zero). Do that for a month and then raise the bar. Increase your speed, or throw in an uphill. Then go and do some burpees or squats at the side for some added resistance training.

But for the record, weight loss should NOT be your only goal in mind. Maybe you started off with that, but when you feel the difference and see the changes in your own strength and abilities, you should shift your goals to bigger things in life. Maybe you want to hike Mount Kinabalu? Maybe you want to travel with your partner for months and do plenty of walking? Maybe you want to go bungee jumping? I have always encouraged my friends and the people I train to enjoy their workouts. Running is the easiest sport to get in to, because all you need is a pair of shoes. And with the abundance of runs organized in Malaysia throughout the year, anyone can set a goal to run a 10, 21 or full marathon at any point in time and work towards it. The feeling you get from crossing the finish line for the very first time is priceless. Not to mention, addictive ;)

Categories: Burn burn burn!, Muscles, Run!, What's happening inside my body? | Leave a comment

The Marathon

Running has always been my favourite game since I was a wee 13 year old. I did my first long distance run (7 km) when I was in Form 1 and found out that I had quite a knack for it. Fast forward to now, 14 years later, I have now completed ten full marathons, the 10th one just happened a few days ago. For the uninformed, let me tell you what the Marathon is all about.

Malaysia Women Marathon 2013

The Marathon is special. It is the birth of long distance running as a competitive sport, in my opinion. It is unlike all other run distances in that all other shorter distances were created as a build up to the Marathon. I think that every man who have tried their feet at endurance running, should finish up the task by completing a full marathon.

It is 42.195 km long and according to ancient Greek history, this was the full distance ran non-stop by a Greek soldier from a battlefield in the town of Marathon, back to Athens carrying the message that they won the battle. It was said that he ran all the way home and shouted “We won!” before collapsing and dying before the people of Athens.

The Marathon is a test of physical and mental spirit. Ask any full marathoner and they can tell you that from KM1 all the way to KM30, life’s peachy. It is after that that sets aside the strong minded from the weak. It is when your feet are burning with every step, your legs are in agony, your skin possibly suffering from chaffing or sun burn, and any amount of water you drink does not seem to alleviate the pain. It is when the best technologies in sporting gear can no longer help you any more, and when your legs seem to want to fail you, and all you have left is the bare spirit of your mind. Your perseverance. Your determination. Your will power. “Do I want to finish a champion of the Marathon?” You will ask yourself this countless of times and the temptation to just say no and give up is greater than you can imagine.

I have done ten in total, and no matter how many times I’ve been through it, every experience is a humbling one. Pain still feels like pain after hours of running, and victory still feels like glorious victory when you cross the finish line knowing that you never gave up.

So I implore you, man or woman, boy or girl, young or old, athletic or not, to give the Marathon a chance. It will change your perception on life. It will change your life. :)

Categories: Muscles, Run! | Tags: | 4 Comments

Raleigh Round Island Challenge – swim till you drop!

I have always said that I am very much a land animal. As long as it is on dry land, be it on my 2 trusty legs, or on some wheels, I have no qualms going very fast! But when it comes to water sports, I often feel a hundred pounds heavier, and I move so slow!

So the thought of a 24-hour swimathon is, to me, an indescribably painful day. But that’s just me.

A group of youngsters are game for it. The Raleigh Round Island Challenge will be held in Perhentian Island on May 3rd, 2013 and will encompass a 56 km swim around the island! 56 participants have risen to the challenge in the name of charity. And oh, it is, moreover, Malaysia’s 56th year of independence. =)

So support this amazing, incredible feat by donating or just being present to cheer for these brave, brave young people. :) Click on the image above to find out more! :)

Categories: Burn burn burn! | 2 Comments

Streeeeettcccchhhhhh!

Previously, I have highlighted some exercises for you to strengthen your back. Interestingly enough, though, many back issues arise from people having extremely tight back muscles. So even if you are fit and healthy, all the exercises you do need unwinding for them to relax and for your body to be at peace (I mean this quite literally because more often than not a sore muscle is caused by two antagonist muscles “at war”). So on top of the exercises you did to strengthen your back, here are some stretches you can do to save yourself some agony. =)

Cobra pose

This stretch helps stretch out the abdominals. Sometimes after a good abs workout, tight ab muscles may cause your pelvic bone (your hip bone) to tilt back. This can be seen if you tend to stand by pushing your hips forward as if to “hide your tail between your legs”.

When doing the cobra pose, ensure you hips do not leave the ground too much, best to keep them touching the floor.

 

 

Child’s pose

This stretch helps to lengthen the lower back. A lot of us do not sit with good postures, often do to poor ergonomic infrastructure. Doing this stretch helps to ease the tension in the lower back caused by sitting in a bad posture for too long.

Try to keep your arms stretched out in front of you as much as possible, your elbows should be off the mat.

 

Knee to chest

By pulling your knee(s) in towards your chest in a lying down position, you are stretching your glutes (butt muscles). There are many of us who have extremely tight butt muscles either from doing lots of lower body exercises without stretching, or from lots of sporting activities such as cycling, running uphill, hiking etc.

You can start with one leg at a time, pulling your knees gently towards your chest and holding it when you start to feel the stretch on your glutes. Finish up with pulling both knees inwards at the same time, and hug your knees firmly.

 

 

 

 

Piriformis stretch

Your piriformis muscle is a small muscle in the upper side of your butt. This is tight for almost everyone I know. Giving it a good stretch every now and then will loosen you up and help you avoid back pain.

When pulling your leg towards your chest, try to keep the leg that is on top of the other thigh, parallel to your chest. Pull on the thigh that is beneath this leg. Repeat with the other leg.

 

 

Lower back twist

This is a great stretch that will take all the kinks and knots out of your lower back. The effects are almost instantaneous!

Have your arms stretched out like a cross. Press down gently on the knee that is bent, and once you feel the stretch hold the position. Keep your chest and head facing upwards, so your lower back gets the maximum twist. Repeat on the other side.

 

These are all great stretches that can be done at home. Hold each position for about 8 seconds on each side. Your entire stretching session should be as long as you can manage, but with a good 10 minutes of stretching you’ll already feel the difference. Hope this helps!

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Watch Your Back!

Many of us suffer from some level of back pain at some point in life. Some may find that it comes and goes and it’s usually just tiredness from standing or working all day. Some may find that it is a nagging pain that never quite leaves. Some are acute, some are around the general area. Whatever it is, it is most like because we have weak backs. Let’s face it, how many of us actually exercise our backs regularly?

Because I personally suffer from lower back pain, and my father is now complaining of lower back pain, I decided to dive into it and although the world of back problems is HUGE, I think a lot of it can be eased, if not prevented, by exercising your back. I think that we all like to focus on our abdominals because we want to look good in a bikini or a speedo, but if we exercise our abs too much without strengthening our backs, you’ll get a muscular imbalance, something which might cause back pain. So here are some basic back strengthening exercises to ensure we keep backaches out of the way for as long as we can.

Now if you do have a major back problem such as a prolapsed disc, or herniated disc or slipped disc, please seek medical advice before trying these exercises out because if there already is a major injury, exercising the wrong way can aggravate it further.

1. Glute Bridge

This exercise strengthens your lower back (Quadratus Lumborum muscle) as well as your butt (Glute muscle). When you raise your hips, make sure you’re kicking off the heels of your feet, and squeeze your butt muscles at the top and hold for 3 seconds. Try 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.

This can be progressed to using only one leg to raise your hips, with the other leg straight up in the air.

 

 

2. Side plank hip raise

The side plank hip raise is a great way to strengthen your hip stabilizers (Obliques and Quadratus Lumborum muscles). When your stabilizers can kick in quickly, you’ll lower the risk of injuring your back when having a fall or getting off balance. Again make sure your whole midsection is activated when you raise your hips, hold for 3 seconds, and gently lower hips to ground. Try 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.

Again, it can be progressed. Try doing it on your palm instead of your forearms when you get the hang of it.

 

 

 

 

3. Superman

This exercise has many variations which target different segments of the back. Try A and B out first, raising your legs and holding for 3-5 seconds, then raising your arms and holding for 3-5 seconds. You can also try C out that is to raise opposite limbs and alternating them. Do 3 sets of 15-20 repetitions.

Once you have mastered that you may raise both hands and feet off simultaneously into a boat-like shape and hold.

 

 

 

 

 

4. Around the world

This exercise is more advanced and you do it in succession from A-B-C, and then again on the other arm. It engages the entire core section plus the back muscles so you get the whole package. Always remember to activate your midsection and squeeze your butt tight throughout the movement. Try 3 sets of 15-20 reps on each side.

Once you are good with that, progress is by going up on your palms instead of forearm.

 

 

 

Try these exercises out at home and see if your back pain leaves you for good. If you’re an endurance athlete, whether you’re a runner, a cyclist or a swimmer, you will benefit a LOT from having a good strong back. Have fun!

Categories: Muscles | Tags: , | 1 Comment

You are special.

Every one of us is different. We have different body types, different backgrounds, different genes, different lifestyles. What we do in our daily lives actually plays a major role in our appearance and our health.

I was on BFM 89.9 recently to talk about how one can create or sculpt themselves a fitness regime that is suitable for them. Here is the podcast of that interview:


But I thought I’d add a little more on top of that just so you guys can get a better idea.

We all have different goals in life but the one goal that should be constant is the goal to be healthy. I cannot stress any more on how much I emphasize leading a healthy lifestyle while you’re still young and able so your future self wouldn’t have to suffer so much.

Adopting a healthy lifestyle, isn’t as simple as just signing up at the gym, although it can very well start with that. It takes more than just working it out once a week, and then go back to incessant smoking and junk food eating and deprived sleep. You would need to tease out one bad habit at a time.

It also means changing your daily habits such as:-

  1. Trying to find the closest parking lot to the entrance. I’ve met so many people who would rather go a million rounds and burn up precious petrol than to park their cars just 100 m further away.
  2. Watching the telly or hanging out till late at night and not getting enough sleep. Very often people ask me why aren’t they achieving their fitness goals when they work out 3-4 x a week intensely. I ask them if they sleep well at night, and they give me that “But I have no choice!” look. I know that the corporate world can get a little crazy, but more often than not, it’s just habitual. Make the right choices and you will find time to sleep more. 7 hours is ideal.
  3. Not eating when you’re hungry and eating when it’s too late. This causes gastric, AND if you eat too close to sleepy time your body wouldn’t digest it well. So you get very little of the nutrients. Which is a waste of good food, I would say.
  4. Having bad standing and sitting postures. Most of the time backaches are caused by bad posture. For those of you who spend hours at your desk, it is crucial to have the ideal sitting posture so you spare your lower back from unwanted stress. Always try to sit up straight, and stand up straight. When you’re standing, try not to shift your weight to one side and stay there too long, always have your weight evenly distributed across both legs. Make sure you don’t slouch when you’re sitting, try pushing your butt out to the back. Use a small pillow for further support.

Old habits definitely die hard, but if you’re determined to live a more quality lifestyle, I think you should consider these pointers to supplement your fitness regime. =)

Never a bad time to change, just start today!

Categories: Body type | Tags: | Leave a comment

The price of health, the price of life.

So let me get this straight. When you get a medical bill from the hospital for a couple of 100 bucks, it’s okay, it’s necessary, it’s inevitable, but when a personal trainer says a session is about 150 bucks, it’s the most impossible price you’ve ever heard? And when you pay a couple of 100 bucks a month for the gym and make it there a grand total of 2 times in 3 months, that’s okay, but when you can get someone to guide you and motivate you and teach you the right technique so you avoid injuring yourself for less than that price, it’s exorbitant? Right.

I’m Karen, a personal trainer, and I am here to educate why having a personal trainer is not a method used only by the rich and famous, and should not be the last resort for those who are clinically obese only.

A personal trainer’s job is to help you achieve your goals. And more often than not, your goals can sometimes be unrealistic, so your personal trainer will be there to share with you what are attainable in the near future so you don’t get disappointed when you fail to achieve your goals. That’s right. Contrary to popular belief, exercise and fitness is waaaaaaay more scientific than you think and for best results, you’d better plan it out. Your personal trainer can do that for you.

A personal trainer’s job is to make sure you do it safely. There are many ways and methods to increase strength, gain fitness, lose weight and improve health, but a vast majority of them either makes you feel extremely sick, or worse, causes injury. With your personal trainer by your side, you can ensure you get fitter and stronger more safely, and without the setbacks of an injury, you get there more efficiently as well.

Because every one of us are different, what that totally buffed guy at the corner is doing may look easy, but may not really be the best exercise for you just yet. Sometimes something as simple as running on the treadmill needs hours of training before half an hour of speed 12 kph is achievable. This is what your personal trainer can help you with. Building up your fitness progressively and safely is the key to achieving results. Let your personal trainer keep track of your own records.

With regards to my previous article on senior citizens, certain demographics require special care and attention. The last thing we want is to have a heart attack or a broken hip. We know that exercise can significantly improve your health but we’ve also heard that it can go the wrong way if not done properly. Let the personal trainer do the research, learn up on your conditions and help you out in any way she can.

DSC_4731_DxONot forgetting our best known accolade, personal trainers are the kings and queens of motivation. Whether you like it rough, tough and dirty or gentle, smurf-like and encouraging, we will ensure you get your bum to your appointment and finish that hour with us, sweat, tears and all, and not just because you paid us so much money! We will be there with through your feel good moments, but even more through the moments you feel like giving up.

Finally, most personal trainers I know are people with a passion for health and fitness. We are a group of people who consist of those who either grew up loving it all through our youth, or quit our boring jobs because this is what satisfies us most. We are the ones who chose this path, and not settled for it. And so your personal trainer will definitely work with you to achieve your goals, improve your quality of life, and if you’re lucky, get you to love a new way of life! Our charisma and enthusiasm are said to be pretty contagious, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you find yourself taking up new fitness challenges in the future by spending all that personal time with us.

So, put a price on health by paying someone who can help you avoid the hospital, not by the amount at the bottom of your medical bills. :)

Categories: Burn burn burn!, Muscles, Seniors | Leave a comment

The Golden Ages

Never too old to kick butt!

Very often people do not do something because they have a preconceived fear that they cannot do it; that they’re too weak, or too slow, or they might fall down and break something. If you’ve heard these things from our Westerners or Europeans, you’d hear it 10 times more frequently among us Asians. It is very much a part of our culture that when we start hitting our 50s, all we’re told to do is to sit down, watch TV, rest, eat more, stay indoors. And that’s what every senior Malaysian I know does, safe for a minority group of runners/gym goers who are even more active than the youths!

Now, in my humble opinion, all they’re doing to themselves is making themselves age even more by being sedentary. Muscle Sarcopenia is what they call the loss of muscle due to aging. In some references I have found, you lose about 0.5-1.0% of your muscles every year when you hit 35 years old. By the time you’re 50 you would’ve lost at least 10% of your muscles. Those are the numbers and we should just accept them as part of life, yes? Wrong.

We can slow down Sarcopenia and I think you know how. What do we do to build muscles? We exercise! It is never too late for a person to start exercising, so long as you are breathing and moving. Even if you have a disability, there is always a way to work up a sweat. There are 2 categories of exercise, as you already know, and they are Strength Training and Cardio Training. Both of these can and SHOULD be practised by senior citizens and I will tell you why and how.

Strength Training

In simple terms, more muscles = more strength. So do more strength training, gain more muscles, gain more strength. When you’re in your golden ages, you will definitely find that your strength is no where near what you had in your youth. And now you know it is due to muscle loss. When you lose muscle, you’re also losing the ability to control your movements well, hence your sense of balance gets affected, and thus the risk of falling or injuring yourself is increased. Packing on some muscles onto your bone frame can go a long way in ensuring you feel stronger, you move better and you are at a lower chance of falling!

How to gain more muscles is pretty simple. Resistance training is your answer.
1. Lifting Weights is one way to do it. Start with light weights (3 Lbs or less) and progress gradually. Do 10 times of a basic move and 3 sets of each move. Ensure plenty of rest and water breaks in between sets.
2. Body Weight resistance training is also great. Simple things like standing up and sitting down on a chair works your thigh muscles. Again 3 sets of 10 repetitions may be sufficient for starting out.

Chair Squats

Cardio Training

This has to do with your heart. If you have lived the past 40 years of your life being sedentary, chances are your heart is extremely weak, and that’s the reason why you feel tired all the time, NOT because you’re old. But I say, why not start now? Training your heart a little bit every day will ensure you a much high quality of life. Not only will you tire less easily, you will find that you fall sick far less frequently and you will be able to go on holiday vacations with your loved ones without feeling the strain too much.

Some simple things you can do are:
1. Walking. Do this every morning/evening. Forget about the distance, just think about the time. Start with 15 minutes of walking and if even that makes you pant, then be glad you’re starting our now. Gradually increase the time to 20 minutes, 30 minutes, and work your way up to 2 hours if you can. When you’re fit enough, try mixing it up with a bit of jogging. :)
2. Swimming. If you can swim, and you don’t like walking because it’s too hot and sweaty, then swim! Same principle applies, start slow and gradually build up the time.
3. Dancing. There are so many line dancing groups out there which you can join in for free or a very minimal fee. Just ask! There could be one just right outside your front gate!
4. Tai ci/Qi Gong. Also many groups of which have sprouted out of no where in our neighbourhood playgrounds and fields. For those of you who want something slower-paced, try this out.

I’ve a grandfather who is in his 90s. When I graduated from New Zealand and came back to Malaysia, he asked me how to increase his leg strength. He walks with a walking stick very slowly, and his balance is not quite there, so I had him holding on to the side of a chair and getting him to sit and stand up from the side of his bed. I told him to do it 10 times, but he misunderstood me and thought he had to sit down slowly in 10 seconds, and so he counted as he lowered his bum down and at his own accord he started to increase the count to 20 and then to 30. He told me his thighs were feeling sore the next day and he was very glad about it ♥. If he can do that, I’m sure many of you can.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, so it takes persistence and discipline for you to gain your strength. Do your training every day and you’ll definitely see results in a couple of months. If there are any doubts, feel free to drop me a line, I’d be more than happy to help you out!

E-Mail me at karensiaheling@gmail.com :)

Categories: Muscles, Seniors | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Fitter, finer, more fabulous 2013!

IMG-20121231-WA0003

Which is what we should all aim towards this year, yes? All in favour, say, AYE! :)

Happy new year, peeps! I hope you’ve had a wonderful Christmas and an awesome holiday to relax and rejuvenate yourself after a long year’s hard work. Today, unfortunately, the little kids are going back to school, and we’re all going back to the grindstone. I know how you feel. *boo*.

I was chatting with my brothers today and they both said they need to start getting back in training because they were feeling a little flabby of late. That’s completely expected after a festive season, especially the year end holidays because everyone is in the mood to catch up over coffee, lunch, dinner, drinks,..the list goes on. I, myself, am starting to feel a little pudgy around the edges, so it’s back to training!

I understand that it may be difficult to get back to your regular routine while you’re still in the holiday mood, and you’re feeling a little heavier. Putting off any routine for that matter makes it very difficult to come back after a while. But, I think I can help ease you guys into it, without pulling a muscle.

1. Expect the worse.

Time is going to be your biggest enemy especially at the beginning of the year. You’ll have plenty of things to do, your kids need to go back to school, you have fresh new portfolio sitting on your desk, you forgot to factor in the crazy back to school traffic on the roads, finding free time to exercise is probably going to be hard. So if you expect this to happen, you can at least plan to manage time better so you lessen your stress for the day. :) As always, exercising when you’re not so uptight is a lot more effective than when your head is clouded. So expect it, and plan ahead.

2. Get enough sleep.

You’ve probably had your fair share of Christmas and New Year’s Eve parties, late night dinner dates, and the whole she bang throughout the holidays. You’re going to be a little sleep deprived and probably used to sleeping late. Although, you’ll fall back into your usual routine soon enough, the sooner you make a conscious effort to sleep earlier, the better you will feel. Get enough sleep, so your mood is better in the morning, which ultimately affects your energy levels as well. This will definitely increase your chances of exercising in the morning or evening, whichever you choose.

3. Start slow.

You’re a bit heavier, and you’re a bit out of practise. This most definitely does not mean you should go into panic mode and start busting your butt on the treadmill. Start a little slower. Don’t worry, you’re not going to lose your fitness forever. Just think of it as oiling up your joints again so you don’t injure yourself. Chances are you’ll bounce right back to your usual self in a couple of training sessions. :)

4. Drink plenty of water.

A lot of travel, a lot of outside food (especially Malaysian food), and a lot of social events all lead to dehydration. The added MSG in our outside food makes us thirsty. And the fact that we slowed down on working out means we didn’t get to sweat out these salts. So the best thing we can do for us to kick the sluggishness right out is to drink plenty of water. Freshen up all the muscle cells in our body so we can get moving faster.

5. Grab friends!

And the most proven way to make starting any form of routine we dread to start a bit easier, be it work or exercise, is to have friends go through the same thing! Knowing that someone is feeling the same way, and dragging that person along with you can be called tough love, but it’s love all the same! Help yourself out by helping your friends out, so it’s a win-win situation! At the end of the day, I’m pretty sure everyone ends up happier.

So here’s a to a fitter, finer and more fabulous you this 2013! May you all UP your awesomeness!

Categories: Burn burn burn!, In your head, Om nom nom | Leave a comment

Quickie.

These days the weather in Klang Valley has been so erratic that for outdoor lovers like me, it can be pretty frustrating when yet another workout plan becomes a washout. Seriously, how is anyone ever going to get their adrenaline fix like this?

Well, I know that many of you have heard about these Tabata and HIIT workouts but don’t really know what to put together. And I have had requests to post up some workouts that I do on my own. Here’s one Tabata workout you can try:

1. Get a timer app for your phone. I use My Interval Timer Pro for Android.

2. Remember Tabata is about 20 seconds of workout, and 10 seconds of rest. So set High intensity at 20 seconds and Low intensity at 10 seconds. Low intensity is your resting time so you do nothing but breathe for 10 seconds. Put 8 repetitions.

3. You’ll be doing 3 sets of exercise. Each set consists of 2 different exercises, repeated 8 times (which means you only do each exercise 4 times, alternating).

Jumping Jacks +  push ups

Jump lunges + sit ups

Squat jumps + Russian twist

I’m pretty sure these will shoot your heart rate right up so allow about 2 minutes rest between each set. And get ready water and a towel. =) My standard formula is usually a mix of one high intensity exercise (lots of jumping usually) and a low intensity exercise (usually more static exercises). Try this workout out, and when you get the hang of it, you can choose your own exercises :)

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