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Archive for February, 2009

How to design your weight loss plan

February 7, 2009 5 comments

scaleBefore you sign up with that weight loss centre, adopt a popular diet or join that expensive gym (that you may not even need!), you need to do your groundwork.

Trust me, I’m a veteran weight loser, so I’ve had to learn things the hard way. This is my community service to prevent you from wasting money and time.

So grab a pen and paper, and get cracking:

1. First, educate yourself
I had to sift through a lot of nonsense before I understood what had to be done. A lot of diet books are faddish and useless, so beware of those. Read magazines like Shape, MSN’s fitness portal, blogs such as Fitness Health Zone (and mine! ;P) and articles online. List down things you want to learn. Perhaps you want to learn more about a healthy, balanced diet? Or how much you need to exercise? Once done, hunt for articles on them online. Google is your friend.

2. Analyse the advice carefully
Unfortunately, fitness and health experts offer such contradicting advice! “Exercise in the morning and you’ll lose more fat,” says one. “No! It doesn’t matter when you exercise,” say another. “Eat pasta!” “Don’t ever eat pasta!” It could drive you insane, really!

What I discovered is that they are probably all right. Hah? How come?? Because people are different. So what may be true for you may not work for others. That’s because we all have unique body chemistries; no one’s alike.

So what do you do?

Don’t just read one book/article, but several. Compare the facts. Experiment with the advice (make sure it’s sound first! If someone says smoking ciggarates will help you lose weight, it’s not exactly good advice!) and listen to your body carefully. How do you feel after eating a certain meal? Do you feel hungrier? Lousy? Or great? Did you lose weight when you ate or exercised a certain way? Which is why you should…

3. Keep a food journal
Oh lawd, I hate food journalling. But they’re sadly necessary. When I was trying to figure out which eating plan was good for me, I noted that I felt ill after eating anything with refined flour (sluggishness, dizziness, bloating) and milk (to the loo I go!). I removed them from my diet and found that I did better and lost weight too! From there, I designed the diet which I’m following today.

4. Follow an eating plan that is just for you!
Yup, not everyone can lose weight on the same kind of diet. Because we’re built differently. Although I personally hate following any kind of fad diet, I have to admit that a lot of them have some truth in them. I say learn from them and don’t be too slavish over their “dos and donts”. Throw into the rubbish bin any diet that asks you to do extremes such as “don’t eat carbs”. They’re often not balanced, are bad for you in the long run, and are not easy to follow.

When you design your diet, ask yourself this: “Can I follow this for the rest of my life?”

Answer honestly. If the answer is a big fat no then keep on researching! Because if you return to your old style of eating, you’ll gain back that weight. To lose weight, you have to adopt a new way of eating – forever, not temporarily.

5. Chose a fitness routine just for you
Yes, exercise is really important in your weight loss endevour. Write down your answer to these questions:

  • What exercises do you like to do? Do more of these. Mix it up to keep it interesting.
  • Scrutinise your daily time table. When is the best time for you to exercise? In the morning, before daily distractions, or in the evening, because you just enjoy destressing?
  • Do you need a gym? Or is a home gym better?

Take the quiz, What Exercise is Right for You for more insight.

6. Ask yourself: Do you have a condition that prevents you from losing weight?
They say that losing weight is easy. Just count your calories and exercise more. Unfortunately, it’s not true for everyone.

For years I blamed myself for not losing weight until I found out, through much reading (which is why educating yourself is so important), that my problem lay with food sensitivity (I’m sensitive to milk and flour) and insulin resistance. Both were preventing me from losing weight.

So, if you have a problem losing weight despite doing all the right things, perhaps there’s a medical reason for it. Do you have a sluggish thyroid? Do you have Polycystic Ovary Sydrome, perhaps? Or Celiac disease?

Do you find it difficult to lose weight? Analyse your food journal and exercise routine. Too little exercise? Too much food at night? Why? Instead of immediately blaming yourself, ask yourself – is it because you have an irresistable urge to snack on chocolates or sweet things? If so, when does it happen? List down the symptoms you may have after eating food.

Read more books and articles online, and you may know the solution soon enough. Also, get a health check up … it doesn’t hurt to get one.

If you’re curious, here’s my weightloss plan. Just a note, however. My plan is not set in stone; I plan to change it as my fitness level improves.

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Categories: Thoughts & such

Do you need an exercise machine at home?

February 4, 2009 6 comments

Exercise machineIn my parents’ home, the study room is a graveyard for fitness equipment. A threadmill now serves as a clothes hanger than a place to sweat it out. A rowing machine lies folded in one corner, dusty from years of unuse. A mini stepper is used to hold books.

Things are quite different in my apartment. Although I do use my stationery bike to hang clothes too, I use the bike at least twice a week. If I do not bunk over at my parents’ home a few days a week, I’d probably use it every day. I love that dear old machine, and often huff and puff away on the bike while catching up on my favourite movies and shows. To me, the stationery bike is a great investment.

According to a New York Times article, a 2008 Consumer Reports said that “nearly 40% percent of those who buy home exercise machines say they use them less than they expected.”

Before you spend hundreds or even thousands of ringgit for an exercising machine, answer these questions first:

1. Do you have a place to keep it?
No point buying that RM5000 epiliptical trainer if wifey kicks a fit when you place it right smack in the middle of the hall.

2. Are you a lone exerciser?
Not everyone is a solitary exerciser. Some people prefer a group environment such as an aerobics class. If you find chugging on a threadmill in your hall the most boring thing on Earth, perhaps you can use your RM5k on a gym membership instead.

3. If you have it, are you going to commit to using at least 3 times a week?
A very logical question but one that is not asked often enough. To know for sure, you got to ask yourself: How badly do you want to lose weight/keep fit? If you really, really want it, go for it.

4. Will you get bored on the machine?
Knowing what kind of exerciser you are is so important. If you prefer to exercise in the great outdoors more often than inside, then maybe you should reconsider. But if its the boredom of staring into space as you whip your body into shape that’s stopping you, consider putting on the radio or watching TV while you exercise.

5. Can you afford it?
Personally, I wouldn’t recommend the chakai RM200-300 machines you can find in hypermarkets. They break down easily and often do not have enough difficulty levels to challenge you in the long run (this is from personal experience with my parents’ hypermarket exercise machine purchases!). So, you may “outgrow” the machine as you get fitter.

Invest in a decent machine. Yes, they certainly can be expensive, but they will pay off in the long run. Wait around for sales – I bought mine nearly 50% off at RM1k. It has a digital reader with calorie counter, clock and mph readings.

PS: I’m 83kg today. I couldn’t believe my eyes! Crossing fingers and hope to be 82kg by end of February. The last time I was 83kg, it was 2007!

Midnight exercise

February 3, 2009 Leave a comment

midnight1I was so annoyed with thwarted attempt to exercise this evening that I did the craziest thing: I put on an Kathy Smith aerobics DVD and worked out – at 11.30pm!

At a time when most people were already in bed, I decided to go crazy in front of the TV. Never in a million years did I ever think that I’ll be so dedicated to losing weight that I’d forgo decent sleep for calorie burn.

Update: They say that late-night exercise interfere with your sleep. Well, it did the opposite for me. I slept like a log! In fact, I think I slept better. But I don’t think I want to do it again! LOL

Categories: Thoughts & such

6 ways to fit exercise into your daily routine

February 3, 2009 1 comment

cathy

1. Exercise at a time you prefer
I know with absolute certainty that I’m not a night exerciser. Which is why I’m sitting here typing this instead of being in RPM class like I originally (and very foolhardedly) planned. The reason? The traffic snarl in front of my office, which would most assuredly make me late for 7.30pm class.

Luckily, I kicked and punched for 20 minutes with a kickboxing DVD this morning. It wasn’t as long as I’d like, but at least I have “done my dues” for the day.

Examine your daily lifestyle. What’s the best time for working out for you? It’s often best to exercise before daily distractions come in, whenever they may be.

Thanks to my job (which has unpredictable hours and lots of travelling to do), morning exercise sessions is the best way to excuse-proof my workouts. What’s your best time?

2. Exercise while watching TV
The best investment I’ve ever made was on a stationery bike, which I’ve placed in front of the TV. It’s the best thing ever to watch The Mentalist and huff and puff on the bike at the same time. I love multitasking, don’t you?

3. Take the stairs, not the lift!
I’m such a hypocrite since 9 out of 10 times I do the opposite but this is good advice nevertheless. (One day I shall brave those steps, carrying my laptop, bag of books and handbag five flights up the stairs!) It’s not just the stairs, however. Take every opportunity to move your body. Walk to the grocery store instead of driving there. Park your car further away from the mall and walk. Every step counts.

4. Choose a gym nearby
Join a gym that is near your home or your workplace. That way, it won’t be such a big hassle trying to get there.

5. Exercise at home
Heck, to be honest, you don’t even really need a gym!

Exercising at home is the best method for me by far. When I have a home gym at my bachelor pad, my iinner whiner cannot say, “The gym is too far away-lah!”

Over the years, I’ve built quite a nice home gym for myself. My apartment is so well-equipped that my friend, who is an avid exerciser, could do her weight training and cardio without worry! But I don’t have many expensive equipment. I have a step box for step aerobics, a couple of good aerobics DVDs, and hand weights. The most expensive equipment I have is my stationery bike (RM1000 which I bought during a sale). Oh yes, my apartment pool is kinda nice too!

6. The 20 minute rule
I tell myself to exercise 20 minutes every morning despite how I feel. And a lot of times, I exercise up to 30 minutes or more. A little exercise is better than NO exercise at all.

The fat comments of Chinese New Year

February 2, 2009 2 comments

Wow. I survived Chinese New Year, which meant that I survived my relatives!

I hated CNY for as long as I remember. Not only for the “when are you getting married, why are you still single” pesky queries, but for my relatives’ creative ways of telling me that I’m fat.

Now, being fat and Asian is like a double sentence.

Guys treat you like you’re invisible because they’re so many skinny, petite Asian girls around and worse, they don’t have the Western restraint of not commenting on someone’s weight.Some of the verbal gems I’ve gotten from the opposite sex in my three decades of existence:

“Why is your arm so fat?”

“I didn’t think a girl so fat can be so smart!”

“Wow, you’re heavy!”

You’re definitely not spared during CNY either, for relatives feel entitled to point out your burgeoning weight “for your own good”:

“Wow, looking prosperous this year!” said an uncle as his eyes ran up and down my girth.

“Oh dear! I thought you were your mother! You’re as big as her, aren’t you?”

“Here, this will help you lose weight!” An aunt said as she proceeded to lift my blouse and strap on some waist contraption on me – in front of my other relatives.

So, yeah. I hate CNY for a very good reason.

But this year, it was different. Since last month, I’ve lost 4kg and my relatives have noticed.

“Wow! You’ve lost so much weight! You just need to lose a little bit more!”

“Last time you don’t have shape, now you have shape!”

And so on and so forth.

My more philosophical side wanted to say, “Guys, why are you so obsessed about how much a person weighs anyway? It is the inside that counts, not the outside!”

But what the hell, I found myself grinning with pleasure. Shallow me. My mother must have heaved a sigh of relief because I promised her that if any of my relatives dare to mention how fat I am this year, I’m gonna give it to them good.

So, welcome year of the Ox! May I lose 10 more kg to get better compliments next year!