Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Change In Your Habits To Benefit From Quality Sleep Time

Keep a schedule

Think of your sleep time like you do (or should, right?) about your workout time: It is an appointment you made with yourself. If it was an appointment you made with your boss, you wouldn’t cancel or postpone, right? So if you want to get quality sleep, you should get used to going to bed at the same time. If your sleeping patter is chaotic right now, it will take a few days to get used to it, and in these days you might fall asleep harder, but remember it is all part of the process, and you’re creating a habit that will benefit you in the long run. And of course, try to wake up at the same time every day, for consistency. Your body will thank you.

Make light and darkness your friends

In order to regulate your sleep cycle and get quality sleep, you should be aware of the lighting. Evolution dictates that we are wide awake when there is a lot of light around us, and we get drowsy when the light is low (like when the sun sets).

In order to make sure that you get sleep at night, you should avoid naps (or take naps in the early afternoon and keep them under 30 minutes). During the day, try to get in some light in order to naturally energize yourself. Walk outside if you can, try not to wear sunglasses in the morning, and make sure there is plenty of light (ideally, natural light) in your office during the day. If you live somewhere where it gets dark very fast, consider investing in a light therapy box, which simulates natural light.

In the evening, in order to relax and get in “sleep mode”, try limiting the light sources. Turn off your TV and computer about an hour before going to bed, and resist the temptation of using your smartphone or tablet while in bed. When it’s time to go to bed make sure the room is dark (curtains pulled, lights off), and if you must go to the bathroom at night make sure you use a very dim light to get there, like a flashlight.

Be careful with food and drinks

You should never go to bed either hungry or full if you plan on getting some quality sleep. Both these feelings ruin your rest, but they can be managed very easily.

You should also avoid caffeine and nicotine a few hours before going to bed (ideally you should only drink some in the morning, if you must). And if you think alcohol helps you sleep, think again- it helps you fall asleep usually, but unfortunately it disrupts your sleep during the night, so your quality sleep will be compromised.

4 Ways Exercise Treats Depression Naturally


Increased use of pharmaceuticals and advancing age can lead to hormonal changes, further leading to anxiety and depression. Exercise helps to return these hormones to homeostatis. Qigong in particular has been shown to reduce depression in elderly patients. And teen patients can even reap the benefits of exercise to help keep cortisol and adrenaline levels in check while increasing seratonin, melatonin, and oxytocin.

Another review examining  previous studies also affirmed that people who exercise are able to reduce the severity of their depression. The research came to us from the Cochrane Library.


You’ve heard Newton’s first law – objects in motion tend to stay in motion. The reason we feel unmotivated when we’ve been negligent in exercising is because our respiratory and cardiovascular systems become depleted (as do all our other bodily systems) when we don’t move. Our cells don’t turn over as fast.

Toxins start to linger longer in our blood and digestive tract, and we start to feel tired and flat out cruddy. When we exercise, all our systems support this life-promoting activity by ‘turning on.’ This is part of the reason we experience an endorphin rush during and just after an exercise session. It is the body’s reward for doing something good for ourselves – and then we have the energy and motivation to do it again!


Who doesn’t feel better when they start to see their waistlines grow smaller, their skin begin to glow from the reduced toxicity in the body from sweating during exercise, and the general tone of their muscles improve? Exercise is a huge confidence booster. Even taking a brisk walk every day can increase your sense of accomplishment when things don’t seem to be going your way.

More vigorous exercise at least three times a week can help make your confidence soar. Many feel depressed because they feel powerless, but you can’t feel both confident and powerless at the same time.


People who exercise usually feel at least five to ten years younger than their chronological age. They often look it, too. By exercising regularly you could potentially reduce your biological age by as much as 9 years when compared to your chronological age. The maximum reduction in age occurs when 3,500 to 6,500 calories are expended each week.

Depression can also trigger as we age, as the demands of life and its responsibilities mount. Low testosterone levels (in both men and women) can increase age-related depression, but exercise can help boost them. Not only does exercise make you feel and look younger, but it can actually reduce the stress that accompanies becoming an older adult.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Working Out?

Even when you have the best of intentions, life sometimes gets in the way of a fitness routine. And whatever the reason behind it, the absence of workouts will cause your body to lose some of the progress it had made. Here’s how an exercise hiatus impacts your body—and what to do to get back on the plus side.

THE SITUATION: Crazy month at work and stopped the four-day-a-week workout habit cold turkey.

THE EFFECT ON YOUR BOD: Doing a mix of strength training and cardio is optimal for weight loss or control, muscle building, and aerobic health. Stop for a month, and you may notice that some areas get softer, that you're not able to lug as many heavy groceries, and that you get winded a little faster from taking the stairs. "In a study of beginners who exercised for two months, their strength increased by 46 percent, and when they stopped training for two months, they lost 23 percent—half the gains they'd made," says exercise scientist Wayne Westcott, Ph.D., who points out that they were still ahead of where they'd be had they never trained at all. Further, the more fit you were to start, the slower the loss; a triathlete on a break may only drop five to 10 percent of her fitness level in a month or two. Still, when getting back into it, go easy. You’ll be back to where you were in probably half the length of time that you took off.

THE SITUATION: You ran a half-marathon, which you trained for like a fiend, then gave yourself a few weeks to recover.

THE EFFECT ON YOUR BOD: A break like this isn't a major problem aerobically for someone who was in really good cardio shape. "You'll be down from your competitive edge, but it won't take long to come back," says Westcott. "Just don't expect to come back at full-speed right away." He recommends easing back in using your heart rate (the zones may have changed from when you were at your peak) and perceived exertion—a seven on a scale of one to 10. He also recommends strength training as a muscle-building complement to your cardio workouts.

THE SITUATION: You've been really into yoga but now miss the high intensity workout you stopped a few months ago.

THE EFFECT ON YOUR BOD: Swapping one workout for another isn’t a bad thing, necessarily. Just know that if you go back to program "A" after doing program "B," you may not be able to bring your A-game to "A" as you once could. "Unfortunately, training is very, very specific," says Westcott. He points out that at the peak of his cycling career, Lance Armstrong was (very arguably) the best athlete in the world, yet when he took up marathon running, his first race was a respectable-but-not-remarkable three hours. In the case of bodyweight training (yoga) versus intense training, expect your strength to be down when you first return to the gym. 

THE SITUATION: You got injured and haven't been able (or wanted) to work out at all for six months.

THE EFFECT ON YOUR BOD: In this case, you've definitely lost muscle and gained fat (as if getting hurt wasn’t enough!), especially if your everyday activity level was affected in addition to the lack of workouts. "Once you're cleared to exercise, you need to return very slowly, very light," says Westcott. "Half or less of what you once lifted may be too much; go way down and find a resistance you can do with good form and without pain for 10 to 15 reps." If you know you’re going to be sidelined (or currently are), he recommends upping your protein intake in your diet to help reduce loss of muscle mass during your time off.


Monday, September 22, 2014

Why sleep deprivation could influence our fitness level?

1. Your Performance Will Be Less Than Average

Even one night of little sleep can affect your workout. Reaction times decrease and performance on tasks like driving and even handling heavy weights declines. That means your cognitive function (your ability to think straight, put in layman terms) is also affected greatly. It becomes harder to make decisions and memory is impaired. Plus, sleeplessness increases sensitivity to pain. That means your workout will feel all the harder even when you aren’t working as hard as usual, and your sore muscles… boy will they be sore!

2. Your Risk for Injury Increases a Lot

You need to make sure that when you step into the gym, even if the workouts are very easy to you, you can stay focused. Like with driving, even if it’s something you are very much used to, you need to focus because one bad moment can hurt you. When you suffer from sleep deprivation your reaction time is slower, and your thinking skills and judgment are clouded by fatigue, so your risk for injury goes up a mile. Why should you risk an injury just to get bragging rights about having been to the gym for the day? It is better to rest and approach your workout with fresh enthusiasm because you are rested and operating at peak efficiency.

3. It messes up your immune system too

It does not take a lot of accumulated sleep deprivation to cause damage. Even if it’s been a few days of little sleep your health will be influenced. Your cortisol levels will grow- and if you’re not sure, cortisol is a stress hormone. Because of this, your ability to fight infections will decrease. Combine that with the added stress of a hard workout, and you put yourself at greater risk for whatever virus happens to be super popular in that period. Wink wink, brace yourself winter is coming, you know? When you’re exhausted, you need rest to lower your cortisol levels and get your immune system back up.

4. The effects add up whether we like it or not, and are hard to erase

One bad night of sleep cannot be erased by one extra night. We all know this, and yet we all try to prove Mother Nature wrong when it comes to sleep deprivation. The truth is that if we skip a beat with our sleep, we have to get a lot of rest to make up for it. If it wasn’t so, we would get no sleep during the week, and then in the weekend just sleep for 2 full days, and be super-fresh on Mondays. But our bodies work differently, so proper sleep needs to be a consistent habit if we want to stay healthy and fit.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

How To Push Yourself Through A Tough Workout

1. Mini-goals

If you split your workout into smaller workouts, it may seem easier. So instead of thinking you need to run 5 miles, you can think that you’re only doing  5 short runs of 1 mile. If you have 6 exercises in a session, you actually only have 2 small exercises for the arms, two for the shoulders and two for the upper back.

2. Visualize!

You know what gets me going when I run? I picture I run after the guy who stole my first bike some years ago, to catch him and kick his ass. Sure, he’s imaginary, but every little bit of motivation helps. The days when I like my bike most are the days when I run after that imaginary guy as fast as I can- and they happen to be my best sprinting times.

3. Like a pro

If you want to push through a tough workout but you constantly lack the will, you could hire a personal trainer. They can be like a drill sergeant, or like a friend who encourages you- find the right fit and get moving!

4. Change pace

If you have to run, for instance, 10 miles, you could change your pace every half mile. The change will add enough variety, often enough, so that you don’t get bored, and monitoring your pace and your progress can keep your mind off the fact that you consider this to be a tough workout.

5.  Trick yourself

What works for me every time is counting backwards. If I have a set of 8 repetitions, I will either count backwards from 8 to 1, or count like this: 1-2-3-4, 4-3-2-1. Either way the focus here is on how little you still have to go, rather than how much you’ve done. When you think “uuugh I’ve already done 7 reps” you don’t feel like doing the 8th too, but when you think “OK, only one more to go” it’s easier to find motivation.

6. Reward yourself

There was a saying on fitness blogs at one point that went like this:

“Don’t reward yourself with food, you are not a dog”

I partially agree with this, in the sense that one hour of cardio should not be “rewarded” with two large frappuccinos with extra cream and sugar. No point in ruining your progress like that. But sometimes food rewards can be great- like  a superfood smoothie, or a protein shake in a flavor you really like (banannaaaaaaaa!).

Or if you want, reward yourself with something every week, or every month, like new workout gear, and remind yourself of this with each tough workout.

Friday, September 12, 2014


I joined Warrior Bootcamp in July with the initial intention to become fitter for the Viper Challenge (an obstacle race) this November 2014 in Sepang.  

I have always been clumsy, timid and being an indoor person, I did not lead an active lifestyle by nature. Furthermore, I used to have chronic knee pains; Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) or runner's knee (pain behind and around the knee caps), back and shoulder pains. My back ache was so serious at one time that I had to lie down most of the time. Everybody advised me to go for physiotherapy but I refused. I opted to go swimming and it helped a bit but the pain still persisted from to time. My shoulder pain was due to my daily office work, my knee pain worsens when I squat, hike or run. Besides that, I had the tendency to fall down easily or sprain my weaker right foot.  As I aged, squatting and standing up become a painful chore. My friends always felt bad for me as I fell so frequently yet I endure the sprain, pain and bruises without tears. I took precaution and wore knee and elbow guards for workouts.
After joining Warrior Bootcamp for a month, my maid had returned to Indonesia for a month long holiday and I felt disheartened as I needed to do the house chores, especially mopping the floor which I usually avoided due to back pain. But much to my surprise, mopping the floor had become easier. My back pain is now gone and I no longer struggle with bending up and down. My elderly mother is so thrilled that she started monitoring my attendance to WBC closely and if I failed to go a without a legitimate excuse, she will nag at me.

I started introducing my friends to join Warrior Bootcamp, which they did. Reason being that they said that I look slimmer and fitter; true enough, I had lost 1KG!!!

Now after being with Warrior Bootcamp for three months, I have lost 3KGs, my hips are now smaller and I have to change my wardrobe!!! My chronic pains that plagued me are all gone.  I no longer wear knee guards and to my great astonishment, my right leg is much stronger now as I do not clumsily fall down anymore. Squatting and standing up is no longer a problem for my right knee. All of my friends who joined Warrior Bootcamp are also happy with no regrets, having achieved good results themselves. 

I used to be an indoor person who went gym, hated sunlight, rain and dirt. Now I love my outdoor exercises, looking at the blue sky, enjoying the fresh morning air as I lay on the green grass. Even when it is raining (no thunderstorms of course), we train without fail. The rain does not make me sick or catch a cold anymore.  Over these 3 months,  I had not only improved my overall fitness level, but I have also developed more  self-discipline, higher self-esteem and confidence.

Due to my age, stress and work, I used to have trouble sleeping but now, I get quality sleep every night.  I wake up early every morning looking forward to my workout with the Warrior Bootcamp team members and my instructor prior to starting my day with a fresh, stress free mind.

Warrior Bootcamp training entails several aspects to achieve optimum fitness and physical endurance like Strength, Flexibility, Balance, Power, Speed, Coordination, Agility and Stamina. In general, it helps me gain a stronger core muscle by doing different cross-training exercises.

I would like to convey my sincere thanks to all the WBC instructors who have trained me over the past three months for their guidance, patience and kindness.  They have not only taught me about exercise but also the importance of hydration, nutrition, eating well, sleeping well, teamwork, the need to listen to instructions and gain ability to adapt and endure over resistance. Without their proper and professional guidance, I can never achieve what I am today; fitter, healthier, stronger and definitely slimmer.  My gratitude also to all my fellow helpful and friendly team members from the different classes.

We are like a family - the Warrior Bootcamp family.
It does not matter how slow I go as long as I do not stop.

So why wait? Come and join Warrior BootCamp! Just like me, you will benefit in every aspect; spiritually, mentally and physically. 

Testimonial from Jenny, 0545 session recruit

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

8 Solid Reasons to Bootcamp

If the gym's a bore and you can never keep up with self-motivation, perhaps bootcamp's the answer.

1. Efficient and effective workouts 
Each boot camp workout is specifically tailored to help you burn the maximum amount of fats with the minimum amount of time. Because it utilises multiple types of physical conditioning which works out every muscle of your body, boot camps break away from the typical set patterns of a gym routine. In just four weeks of a good boot camp programme, you will notice increased energy levels, physical strength, endurance, stamina, and a decrease in your body fat (yay!).

2. No more boredom
Instead of doing the same thing every single time you turn up, you’ll find yourself working out to a variety of different activities which challenges different parts of your body. One minute you’ll be sprinting up and down the stairs, and the other you’ll be working together to transport a heavy tyre from one end of the field to the other. For the ones who crave excitement, boot camp dishes up quite a lot of it.

3. Fun yet challenging
Working out in a team adds accountability and motivation, plus nothing challenges you more than someone else doing better! (And don’t worry, it’s going to be nothing like military-style boot camps. No shouting commanders or punishment push-ups!)

4. Personal instructors at a not so personal price
If you’re one of those who needs external stimuli to get moving, you’ll love boot camp. Every step of the way, whether you are doing jumping jacks or bear crawls, an experienced instructor will be by your side motivating you. But because boot camp is set in a group, they are usually much more affordable than hiring a personal trainer.

5. Get results fast
Because of its highly effective workout programmes tailored to fit your body and fitness type, boot camp usually gets you much quicker results than running on a treadmill at the gym. Boot camp trainers also dish out nutrition advice, which as we all know, goes hand in hand with a fitness regime to keep you healthy and strong.

6. There’s something for every level 
Have you been a couch potato all your life? Or perhaps you are a 10-time triathlon winner? Whatever your fitness level is, boot camp can help provide a suitable (and fun) challenge. Participants are divided into teams corresponding to their physical capacity, then work outs are planned accordingly. Wherever you are in the fitness journey, boot camp can help you level up.

7. Make new friends
The people you hang out can influence what you order at a restaurant and how often you work out, and basically everything else you do in life. After all, peer pressure is king. At boot camp, you’ll meet people who like you, are motivated enough to get healthy and happy. Working in a team with them will help foster closer relations and who knows, you might be checking out these healthy cafes for a cuppa after working out!

8. More happiness
This one is an oldie, but a goodie. Exercising releases endorphins which keeps you on a positive high. Most boot camps schedule their sessions to run early in the morning, before you head off to work, or early in the evening, right after you get off work. This means you can choose to either start your day off happy and confident, or end a tiring day by releasing the happy hormones.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

What is Mental Toughness to Nicol David, World No. 1 Squash Player

Mental toughness is what stands between success and failure in most situations. World No. 1 squash player Datuk Nicol David gives some ideas on how she does it:

Ever ran a marathon or hiked up Mount Kinabalu? Or perhaps slaved away on a treadmill? If you’ve done physical activity of any sort, you’ll realise that the toughest part is not your limbs giving out, but rather your mind giving in.  How often do you find yourself wanting to stop doing that push-up, or swimming that lap just because you feel like you can’t do it anymore?

Mental toughness is a prerequisite to success, be it in sports, in your career, or even in romantic relationships. While many people throw in the towel prematurely, the greatest sportspeople have found the secret to steeling their minds against difficult challenges. Through perseverance and hard work, they have managed to make it to the top.

Whatever your goal is — to lose weight, to eat healthier, to master the guitar – you need perseverance. But how do you cultivate it? We talked to pride and joy of Malaysia, and world no.1 squash player Datuk Nicol David to see what mental toughness is to her.

1. Share with us a typical day in your life. 

I usually wake up between 8-8:30am to start my training sessions at 10am or 11am. I train two sessions a day between 2-4 hours a day, 6 days a week. Both training sessions are either a squash session or a physical session (physical session consists of gym, circuit training, track work, sprints, cardio and endurance runs) depending on my programme.
Breakfast would be around 8:30-9am, lunch right after my first training session around 12:30-1pm and dinner quite early around 6-6:30pm. Breakfast mostly revolves around cereal or some toast, for lunch I’ll have a variety of different sandwiches and for dinner I’ll have a big meal that goes according to the workload I’ve done.
If I have done some weights then more fish, chicken or meat dishes, and if it had been an endurance/physical squash session then I’ll have more pastas/rice or noodles to replace my energy with veggies in between. I have a nutritionist to guide me on pre and post meals during training/competitions just to replace enough energy after my workouts and eat the right foods to prep me for training/competition.

2. What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done physically, that truly tested you mentally? 

The hardest thing is to be down in a competition match and finding something more inside to keep believing that I can push through till the very end even when my body is hurting to get back on the winning end. However, it’s the most satisfying feeling when I can overcome that.

3. How did you overcome it? 

At a young age I was fortunate to be given an opportunity to work with the National Team that provides mental trainers to guide our athletes on how to prepare mentally with visualisation and goal settings. Since then I have put this into practice and also brought in a sports psychologist, Frank Cabooter for the last 4-5 years to really customize methods to gather my focus on another level. It takes a lot of practice during training to get that sense of belief that it works and then applying it in competition. Certainly not easy but I like the challenge.

4. Sometimes, losing a match can demotivate you into performing less during your next match. How do you overcome the “mind-over-matter” issue and focus all your attention at playing your best game? 

In squash it’s a knock-out system so players won’t necessarily get to experience playing straight after a loss. However, after losing a tournament it does take a toll in some way. At the moment the more time I have been in competition, the better I become at handling my losses with the help of my coach, Liz Irving and sports psychologist. We usually go through what went wrong and be ready to move forward for the next competition.

5. What was the lowest point in your career, and how did you overcome that? 

It was in 2002 when I lost the Asian Games gold medal. That was tough especially when I won the gold 4 years before that. I took some time away from squash and made one of the best moves for my career to move to Amsterdam to work with my coach, Liz. It was the turning point of my squash career and Liz is still coaching me now after 11 and half years. She has been a true mentor to me in every sense and her experience translates in the way she coaches. I’m still learning a lot from her and she amazes me every time we work together.

6. Do you believe we’re stronger than we think we are? 

Of course we are! The only thing that stops us from moving forward is ourselves if we don’t fully understand our capabilities.

7. How do you think we can unleash our best self?

We have to give ourselves a chance to try new things, explore various talents that we have and see how it goes for us. I strongly believe that everyone has a gift and we should find out what that is and make the most out of it. The moment something seems right and works naturally then take it forward for yourself. I’m passionate with squash and I know I can still improve to reach my full potential. I have a great team around me with my coach, physiotherapists, psychologist and the sports science expertise from the Sports Council of Malaysia that works together to keep me at my best shape mentally and physically towards competitions.

8. How do you think we can train ourselves to be mentally tough and focus only on doing our best instead of giving in to the pain / negative thoughts etc? 

I encourage more people to write down some goals for themselves to work towards. Everybody should have something to strive for in their lives. Then they can picture themselves or visualize doing the things in a positive way by seeing themselves achieving it whether it is in training, competing, at work or anything that they feel they would like to improve on. This takes practice and it’s a lot of hard work, belief and patience to achieve their ultimate goal.

9. Mental toughness is… 
…self-belief in ones capability to take on a challenge.