How I lost 2 kg in two weeks

I gained 2 kg over Christmas and Chinese New Year from overeating. It was your typical case of holiday indulgences. I ate everything in sight and convinced myself that I was allowed to because the holidays were meant for merry making. Alas, my metabolism couldn’t keep up, given that I was no longer a teenager. I didn’t stick to paleo eating as well – bring on the pineapple tarts and Christmas puddings.

I didn’t realise I had gained any weight (because I don’t weigh myself) until my clothes starting feeling tight on me. My stomach, which was never really slim to begin with, started protruding out and I felt self-conscious about wearing fitting clothes. Even my bra was cutting into my chest.

Was running the answer?

I decided that I would run more. Since I enjoy running, it wasn’t a chore. It just took quite a lot of time because I wanted to go for long runs and I often didn’t have an hour a day to spare. This went on for about a month before I hurt my knee and couldn’t run anymore. The frustrating thing was that my weight didn’t budge at all. I didn’t understand why it was so difficult to lose 2 kg that shouldn’t be there in the first place. To me, I was 2 kg over my equilibrium weight. I wasn’t trying to be unnaturally slim.

At the same time, I signed up for the CFA exam – which is a really tough 6-hour exam covering financial topics – for my work. My spare time was further reduced. So I didn’t have time to go to the gym now and I didn’t have time to run. I decided to look for home exercise videos.

Home exercise videos

Friends recommended Beachbody’s Insanity workout by trainer Shaun T, which was touted to be the hardest workout ever put on DVD. But you get really good results, like so:

insanity workout

Continue reading How I lost 2 kg in two weeks

Staying healthy on holidays abroad

Overseas holidays are normally associated with lots of eating. We want to sample all kinds of delicious foreign food and we take a break from our usual workout routine. It’s not uncommon to come back with our bellies bloated and skin blotchy from poor eating! Even if the trip involved physical activities like hiking for two days, it’s still possible to eat unwisely when we are not prepared with healthy snacks. Or we may pig out after our strenuous activity thinking that we have burnt enough calories!

How do we stay healthy on overseas holidays then? I just returned from my friend’s bachelorette party in the Maldives and indeed, we feasted non-stop! Actually, I thought we ate a lot less than our usual holidays simply because the food and drinks were prohibitively expensive. Here are a few tips:

  • Do a fast before your holiday

If you know that your holiday will involve a lot of eating and sitting around, it may be prudent to do a one-day fast before the trip to compensate for the extra intake. There are several ways to fast. My favourite is the Fast Diet method, in which you only eat 500 calories for women, and 600 calories for men, for one day. The next day you go back to eating normally. It’s not as difficult as water fasts and not as sugary as juice fasts. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend juice fasts at all given the amount of sugar consumed. The good thing about fasting is that you do it just for one day but studies have shown that even temporary caloric restriction can have many benefits for the body, including improvements in blood pressure and insulin sensitivity.

  • Start with a salad

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My football playing years – thinnest and fittest

Yesterday I played football or soccer with my university ex-team mates for the first time in a year. Everything went well for the 15 minutes. I chased after the ball; I defended against players; and I scored the opening goal.

SMU Women Soccer

After 15 minutes, fatigue started setting in. The pace slowed. The defending was more lacklustre. The kicks were weaker. After 30 minutes, most of us were calling for a time-out. I wheezed on the floor. By the 50-minute mark, I had left the playing arena and was bent over with stomach stitches. The game was supposed to go on for an hour but already I was ready to go for supper.

It made me realise what a huge difference in fitness level I am at now, compared to the four years of competitive football in university. We played 11-a-side on a big field and I was on the left wing, which required dashes up and down the flank. Back then, we trained three times a week when it was competition season. Warm-up exercises included sprints and circuit training with the ball.

We didn’t have a school field so we travelled all over Singapore just to get two hours of training. We trained in Sentosa. We chartered a bus all the way into Turf City because it was so deep in that we couldn’t walk the distance from the bus stop. We played on water logged patches of grass because we couldn’t afford to pay to rent a field. It was crazy. But it was also the most fun I’ve had in sports.

I ate anything and everything. I wasn’t bothered about calories or my weight. Sometimes when I was bone tired and had no appetite, I forced myself to eat because I knew I needed strength to play and nutrients to repair my muscles.

I didn’t realise it then but my football-playing time was to be my thinnest and fittest years. The best thing was that it was all accomplished without my knowledge. I was concerned about how far I could kick the ball – and not how I looked. I didn’t think, “Okay, 30 sit-ups for nice defined abs.” I thought, “Okay, 30 sit-ups so that I can play better.”

Unfortunately, exercise nowadays for me is about keeping in shape. Apart from yoga, which I genuinely enjoy, all other exercise classes seem to be exercising for the sake of exercising. I like my body combat class because it makes me sweat. I like my body pump class because lifting weights makes me look more toned. Gone is the sheer joy of movement with a purpose.

That joy returned yesterday at the pitch. I love playing team sports and football will always be my first love.

SMU Women Soccer

We found time to pose and act like clowns.

Women soccer

Juls and Sumei make faces for the camera.

What I do at the gym

Every time I decide to do a workout, I’m faced with a myriad of choices. My subscription to a mega gym means that I have access to many clubs in the same area. At work, I have three gyms in the vicinity. Near home, I am a five-minute drive away from the nearest gym. I also have the option of going for an outdoor run.

Once I decide to go for a workout, I pull out the online schedule and my thought process goes like this:

Yoga Singapore

1. Are there yoga classes today?

Yes -> Taught by a teacher I like? -> Yes -> Go for yoga; if no, go to Option #2.

No-> Select a high-intensity interval training type of class -> Option #2.

2. Are there circuit training/body pump classes today?

Yes -> Do I have a lot of energy today and feel like kicking ass? -> Yes -> Go for circuit training/body pump; if no, go to Option #3.

No-> Select another cardio class -> Option #3.

3. Are there body combat classes today?

Yes -> Can I stand the thought of punching imaginary people, yelling in class and learning bad martial arts form? -> Yes -> Go for body combat; if no, go to Option #4.

No-> Select another cardio class -> Option #4.

4. Are there dance classes (Sh’bam or Body Jam) today?

Yes-> Am I in the mood to use my brain in an exercise class? -> Yes -> Go for dance class; if no, go to Option #5.

No -> Run on the treadmill or outdoors -> Option #5.

5. Run on the treadmill or outdoors

This is my last resort if I cannot find a suitable class in the gym.

Looking at what I just wrote, I realised that this pretty much means that I prefer yoga, circuit training and body pump over all the other group exercise classes. For yoga, it is very much dependent on the teacher. I like teachers who focus on fitness, body alignment and throw us challenging poses to stretch us. I don’t like teachers who give us strange breathing exercises (fire breath) at the start of the class and expound on the spiritual essence of yoga. But yoga with a good teacher wins all other group exercises anytime of the day.

The next is circuit training. Unfortunately, I only have one circuit training class every week that falls on a Friday lunch. This class is a killer. It’s very difficult and usually I’m collapsed before the end of each round but I can tell that it’s doing good for my muscles and toughening me up.

As for body pump, this class is great for women who are intimidated by the weight lifting. I have never used the weights and machines at the gym because I don’t know how to use them. I am also frightened by the grunting and heaving in front of the mirrors. But body pump classes are great because the instructor will tell us when to add weights and when to remove them depending on the muscle we are exercising. I can also imitate the instructor’s posture because good form is crucial for lifting and it’s important to learn it to stay safe.

If I had more time and money, I would prefer other types of exercise. I found a lot of interesting little gyms online that offer fat loss boot camps, kettlebell classes, outdoor circuit training and even crossfit. But they are not cheap considering that I would have to add it on to my costly two-year gym membership.

What are your favourite group exercise classes and most importantly, which do you think are the best for burning fat?