Sunday, November 30, 2014
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Most of us avoid one type of exercise or another. Here's how to become a (happy) convert.
Do what you love and love what you do may be an aspirational Oprah-esque career goal, but it also applies to how most of us approach the time we log at the gym. Our favored activities easily win out and we avoid those we dread, feeling satisfied with the runs, reps, or vinyasanas we do put in.
But that leaves us wondering: Can you learn to appreciate a different form of exercise? Even one you feel you hate? And if ‘changing it up’ is a core construct of fitness, shouldn’t you just do it?
The answer: Yes. According to Amy Church Lao, M.S., National Manager, Equinox Fitness Training Institute, not only can you retrain your preferences, there are reasons you should. “The way you improve at a given sport is by creating change within that activity. Say you’re a runner—you run hills, you do sprints, and those changes help you get stronger and get faster. It’s the basis of exercise science—you create a stimulus and that challenge creates change in the body,” says Church Lao. “And doing an entirely different form of exercise is a version of that.”
In other words, it leads to results. “It’s a type of cross-training and it helps to think of it that way, especially if it’s something you dislike,” says Church Lao, who has a masters in sports psychology. “It can also give your body a break from the stresses of your normal workout. But it does require a shift in perspective.” The psychological component of moving from bike or treadmill to yoga mat (or vice versa) is often the biggest hurdle, so don’t chastise yourself if you start out approaching your dreaded activity as a means to an end.
“Say you love to run on the treadmill, but you hate yoga, think: I may be a runner at heart but the benefits of doing yoga can make me an even better runner. I’ll have better thoracic rotation, better dexterity, better breathing. In that case, yoga becomes a supplement, rather than a chore,” says Church Lao, who notes that you can sub any activity and apply the philosophy. “The idea is that it’s a different stimulus for the body but it actually helps you get to where you want to go.”
The happy side note is that from there, another shift in perspective can gradually occur. If you give it a chance, that activity you used to dread can become something you enjoy.
Here, Church Lao’s tips on how to mentally approach the task of expanding your workout activities:
1. Focus on the physical (and psychological) reward.
Don’t think about how you don’t like the activity or about how it’s taking you away from what you love doing. Focus on how it’s helping your core engage in a new way or how it’s offering your body a form of active rest.
2. Cut yourself some slack.
It’s often because you don’t feel good at a new activity—especially when you’re used to excelling at your primary workout. But when it’s not your primary activity, you don’t have to be great at it because it doesn’t ‘count’ in the same way. That can be liberating and has the psychological benefit of being a great stress reliever.
3. See the big picture.
In terms of adherence, there’s a lot of exercise psychology out there that encourages you to include a different type of activity—a form of play in your routine. That way it’s not all about hard-core training, which can lead to burn-out even with something you love. Doing something different helps keep everything else fresh, and it really can be fun.
Sunday, November 23, 2014
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
"Boot Camp"..... someone answered when asked what they did for exercise. It immediately evoked images from my younger years in Northern Ireland during the 'troubles'. Images of army training near my home which appeared to involve running up and down the Mourne mountains in all weathers dressed in full fatigues and weighed down with back packs or ruck sacks! Needless to say I was in no hurry to sign up.
Then I met Rita, a petite, trim lady who had joined Warrior Bootcamp a few months earlier. She assured me that I would not be sporting fatigues and doing 100 push-ups in less than a minute but that it was possible to see some positive physical effects in a few months. I was convinced!
Not a sporty person by nature, I do however enjoy outdoor activities. Going to the gym a couple of times a week was a ritual but tt certainly wasn't fun. I tried tennis once but ran a mile when after several lessons, the coach arranged for me to play with the highly competitive tennis enthusiasts at Penang Sports Club. Hiking lasted for a period of time but going downhill on older knee joints takes its toll. So there I was on my first day feeling rather apprehensive but willing to give it a go. A variety of challenging but familiar looking exercises were introduced such as push ups, sit-ups and lunges, but burpees? To me, they sounded like positions an infant might be held in in order to relieve their "wind" if only..
It has now been almost a year since I joined Warrior Bootcamp and I can honestly say, it has been a wonderful experience. The people in WBC are a very positive and friendly group. I have made some great friends and everyone is extremely encouraging and supportive.
The enthusiastic instructors bring their own unique style to each session which means it's never boring. It's about doing your best and pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone.
The World Health Organisation defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. I can honestly say that Warrior Bootcamp covers all these aspects of well being and I recommend it wholeheartedly.
Sunday, November 16, 2014
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
As a huge peanut butter and jelly addict, I fell in love with Questbar after the first bite. A friend introduced it to me a while ago, and I decided to buy a box of a dozen while shopping for other health supplements on iHerb.com. I was impressed when I read the label – ‘No Sugar or Sugar Alcohols Used‘.
Lets not kid ourselves. Sugar-free peanut butter and jelly protein bar? That’s about as far fetched as a healthy cheese dog. I read the ingredients on the back of the label (should’ve done that before…) and noticed that there was indeed SUGAR in the protein bar, except it’s named Sucralose. it’s really just another word for sugar. In other words, despite the deceptive labeling, the primary ingredient for my snack bar was none other than sugar.
Check your food label! Here are 45 food ingredients that are really just sugar in disguise:
1. Barley malt
2. Beet sugar
3. Brown sugar
4. High fructose corn syrup
5. Corn sugar
6. Cane sugar
7. Corn syrup
8. Brown rice syrup
9. Cane-juice crystals
10. Carob syrup
11. Yellow sugar
12. Date sugar
16. Diastatic malt
18. Ethyl maltol
21. Grape sugar
22. Fruit juice
26. Fruit juice concentrate
27. Raw sugar
32. Demerara sugar
34. Maple syrup
36. Powdered sugar
37. Confectioner’s sugar
39. Turbinado sugar
41. Ethyl maltol.
43. Sorghum syrup.
44. Muscovado sugar.
Labels tend to be very tricky and manufactures go to great lengths to make their products seem healthier. If you see any of the above ingredients, know that that it’s just another name for sugar.
Sunday, November 9, 2014
Tuesday, November 4, 2014
I must say, I didn’t know what to expect at the Viper Challenge 2014. For all I know, it’s a half marathon distance with obstacles along the way. Call it ignorance but I didn’t even bother to check out what the obstacles are like either; not even the photos or videos from Viper Challenge the year before. All I’ve heard were stories shared by people who attempted it last year. A friend said it was considerably easy, do-able and we should have no problem in it. But little did we know that this year’s Viper Challenge had different things in store. Obstacles are more and tougher.
We gathered a bit of intel from our friends who had done it the day before. The stories they told, wow, probably enough to make me feel worried but at the same time gave enough adrenaline rush to want to get it over with.
Our slot was the earliest at 6am and we were required to be at the Sepang International Circuit by 4am to avoid long queue at the registration and bag drop counter, which means we had to be up at ungodly hours of 330am to get ready for the event. We reached the event venue by cab, walked across the carpark towards the brightly lit tents to obtain the event band indicating our starting time which was strapped onto our wrists.
And then the painful wait began…the event was delayed for about half an hour due to the fact that the security officer has not given the green light to flag off the race. My teammates and I took the opportunity to squeeze in a little snooze and a short warmup session while waiting.
At approximately 630am, after a much enthusiastic effort to motivate and cheer us on, the emcee flagged off the race. We had to scuffle our way through the crowd for the first 500meters or so (this is when all the agility training comes handy ;)), and eventually when it was a bit more dispersed we broke into a slow jog. The idea was to get a little more ahead in front to avoid long queues at the obstacles later. The decision proved to be right later.
Now I won’t describe in detail all the obstacles one by one, as there were about 20 obstacles altogether (besides, I lost count of the number obstacles halfway through :)) but let’s just say I’m glad all the consistent training with Warrior Bootcamp has helped to prepare me not only physically but mentally as well to face the challenges.
As ironic as this may sounds, I began to relate and understand Conor’s philosophy of what we, the locals would sometimes consider to be ‘mad’ and ‘different’. So what if it rains? So what if we had to roll in the mud? So what if we had to brace ourselves to attempt something different? So what if we had to run up the hill with a backpack? So what if you've got a little bruise? The fact is, we have been pampered and too comfortable doing things in our comfort zone all this while.
"I will just stay with the gym because I am afraid of the sun and dirt, I refuse to go hiking for fear it will hurt my knees, I prefer to sleep in rather than to wake up early to train, I don't think I will try bootcamp because it looks tough and I can't possibly keep up, I'm afraid I will get sick if I run in the rain, I will get allergy if I roll on the grass too much"
We all want to have it all and yet not willing to commit and execute. Well then.. if you're afraid of getting down and dirty, I think running on a threadmill in the comfort of your house is the best you can do because these are exactly the challenges we had to face in the Viper Challenge!
Scrambling, crawling, running in the rain, climbing up walls, endurance running, rolling in the mud, pull ups, agility.... it felt like we’re doing another round of the Saturday obstacle run training, only this is a bit longer. I definitely find obstacle runs more challenging and if I may add, more fun than normal running. For someone who’s never really into long distance running, this is perfect for me. Perhaps it’s because I can pause to perform the obstacles and then pick up again.
Viper Challenge is also about teamwork. It’s impossible to get through all the obstacles without help. As our team consisted of 2 ladies and a man, it was quite hard for the ladies to help our male teammate especially when it comes to strength based obstacles. Thank God for the friendly and helpful strangers we met along the way. Great teamwork was seen especially in the 'Stuck in the Mud' obstacle where everyone had to slide down into not one but several mud holes about 7 feet underground and try to scramble up the slippery surface again. Also the 'Defying Gravity’ obstacle where one would need at least two persons to help them up the high incline wall, unless you're 8ft tall then you'll have no problem doing it on your own :P
The warrior mentality was put to test at the last 5k of the course. After the 14k mark, when the energy level was low, tiredness began to hit and everyone was basically 'zombiefied', I observed that a lot of people would just skip the obstacles and continued walking. Instead, we’d still try our best to run on the muddy surface, up the hill and attempt every obstacle that came our way. I admit, not all attempts were successful but the most important thing was that we tried, and warriors don’t give up.
A few did it triumphantly without any help from the volunteers, some tried and failed, some tried and although succeeded, did it rather unglamorously. I'd like to think I belong to the latter category LOL but hey I did it! By hook or by crook we pushed through and survived the Viper Challenge! :) *high fives team* we finished pretty early too thanks to starting at the earliest slot and frequent jogs most of the way.
Thank you again to Warrior Bootcamp for all the great training. I never realize how much they have helped strengthen the mind, body and spirit. Also, not forgetting my awesome Warrior mates who braved, stayed and completed the challenge with me. Sure we came back with bruises, chafed skin and a bit of bloody knees and but it was expected. At least now I can say, we obtained the medal through blood and sweat. What an awesome experience it has been :)
pictures sources : Google & Instagram