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Fitness

It all begins with Self-Love. Be it beauty, health or fitness. You need to love yourself enough to work on looking more beautiful, being healthier and getting fitter.

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Odd shape feet not fitting into your closed shoes? Struggling with bunions in your daily activities?

That’s me. And sadly, nothing much could be done to reverse my bunions unless I am ready for corrective surgery.

Bunions are not uncommon in ladies, with the belief that this condition is primarily caused by wearing ill-fitting and high heeled shoes. There are, however, men with this condition as well, which makes this allegation somewhat untrue. Recent research has said that about half of the population of people actually have this condition!

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runningWhen you run, you are not just training your body, you are training your mind as well.

A couple of weeks back, I completed my 2nd run event. It is difficult for me to participate in running activities as I am hardly in town. A day straight after touching down from Paris-Japan back to Singapore, I was at the Jurong Lake Run running my 6km run. As I was not feeling my best with the whole last month of not sleeping and feeling well, my performance actually turned out not as bad as I expected it would be. I was running at a steady (probably kinda quite slow) pace all through to the 5km mark, without actually feeling worn out yet. I was later able to complete 6km without decreasing pace, which for my stamina, I guess wasn’t bad at all.

From naught to 6km non-stop, no doubt it came with a fair amount of training, this (little) achievement is largely mental. Here are some pointers I talk about, when I talk about running. Like all runners will always tell you : ‘If you can imagine it, you can do it!’

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It has been half a year since I made my presence on my blog. I have been away from home for a couple of months early this year. Made the decision to get back to the flying industry, I was in Japan for training during the whole of the winter season this year. And since then, I have been jet-setting for a couple of months now.

Living in Japan for a while was interesting for me. Besides the difference in culture, surprisingly hard to get less-carb food choices, and the endless shopping temptations, trying to keep fit without a gym (none in where I put up at) was challenging. I had, for the first time, ran in the cold bitter winter. Rocking bodyweight workouts in the hotel room with limited space was hilariously difficult. I did all that for 3 months.

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exercising in makeupLook, we know every woman like to look and most importantly, feel pretty. But, we too, know that wearing makeup while exercising just isn’t quite recommended. The chances of bumping into someone we know at the gym, and not wanting them to see a sweaty and unglamorous-looking face, is the risk most women would not want to take.

For me, I look (feel) ugly every time I hit the gym. And because I exercise vigorously and hard, I perspire tons! (I know some girls who don’t want to even get to that awful smelly state in the gym.)  I will only have sunscreen on, filled brows (because they are only half the size of a full brow!), and a tint of blush to make me not look too pale and faint.

We know exercising with a full faced makeup isn’t good for you. But, we may not have time to wash our face in between work and gym, and we think just once in a while is quite forgivable.

Yet, I was wrong.

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Any runners out there coping with painful bunions? What do you do to make sure they don’t get any worse than what it is now?

Love Betsy

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It’s been a crazy month with many events happening in the family as well as a trip away to Taiwan. However, the highlight of October definitely has to be completing the first EVER running event of my life! I was extremely excited though I wouldn’t say I have performed my best, but for anyone who is just starting out like me, will probably appreciate the effort I put in to train up for this event.

In my prior posts, I have mentioned how I was away from fitness for a good 10 or more years. Running was never my thing, and I could not even run for  a minute without panting, almost like gasping for air after. Besides my extremely poor stamina, I have this foot condition (bunions) for more than 10 years, and that kept me off dancing and running because any flexion on my toe joint will cause pain and discomfort.

In April this year, I signed up for the Shape Run organized by Shape magazine Singapore, under the encouragement of my partner. I didn’t even think that advert would have caught my attention, but I was glad I had decided to go for it.

Shape Singapore is a fitness magazine for women, and the Shape Run is an annual event held for women only. Many said the magic in a run like that is to be able to participate with all other female runners, be they fit and athletic, or just ladies making that extra effort to try to get back into a fitter health state. The pressure seems to be lesser, as I would imagine myself running alongside men who jog like my sprinting speed!

So here are the Shape Run photos taken on the 27th Oct. I spurred my elder sister to come join me in the run. Both of us are relatively unfit before, but I am sure it will all change from now  for both of us. (Note : She did not practice before the race day! Very proud of her!)

Even though it’s just a 5km run that isn’t anything to brag about, I am still very proud and hyped post the run. I started slow as I was trying to pace myself, but got to a point I realized I was going way too slow…..I picked up some good speed throughout to the end, and was quite delighted at the fact that I didn’t stop once during the race, and in fact, I was on a gradual constant increase in my speed. I am so happy I didn’t slack!

Rank results came out today and I’m exhilarated that I actually came in not as far back as I thought I was. HEHE! Not a good record time though, I had better timing on my practice runs, but the time per km definitely was much better as I was dashing after catching sight of the Finish barricade.

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 9.20.17 PM

* I started after the flag off time as I was desperately trying to queue for the washroom before. So please note NETT TIME only. (hee*)

I must compliment Shape Magazine SG for putting together the yearly run so orderly and well organized. Although its my first time on an event like this, I must say I was crazily impressed by the number of portable toilets on site. I easily count 50? If I had known I would not be queueing at the nearby train station and to miss the pre-run warm up session and flag off time! Despite the unexpected haze in July that caused the deferment, it was great that everything went on smooth and well yesterday! Good job Shape! You have got me hooked on not just your magazines but also your runs!

All in all, I am pleased I have taken my first step to try to run again. It is not a dying wish of mine, and it had never occurred to me that I would ever sign up for something which clearly didn’t seem like my forte. Being the slowest in most school races throughout my younger days, panting and puffing every few strides just made me really embarrassed. I guess the key is, everyone has to start somewhere, it’s just a matter of how much we want it and be willing to work for it. If i can start from a mere 100m to a 5km non-stopping run distance, I am sure you too will be able to do it.

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you”

Here’s to my next run event, and I will be working up to my next goal of 10km. And because I hate my bunions and knee pain, all the more…….Be sure to see me there, one day!

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Protein-foodsAs fitness enthusiasts, we all know the importance of protein in our diet to aid lean muscle building and repairing of damaged tissues and cells. Instead of piling on lots of meat and beans on your meal plate, the popularity of soluble powdered protein has increased over the recent years. Because of the convenience it brings for its users, having a protein powder that dissolves in water and mixes with almost anything is just so easy and appealing to us.

Weight Loss Shake - Protein Powder

I do take my protein shake together with a nutritional mix on a daily basis. I will share this on a subsequent article later on. Writing this article is to address the concern of the possibility of having too much of protein. In fact, we all know that too much of any one thing, is not necessarily good for our health.

Many athletes believe that consuming large amounts of protein will help to improve their performance. Engaging in strength and endurance training day in and out does require a fair amount of protein. This theory is true to a certain extent; but to consume too much will possibly result in a decrease in performance as well because other nutrients are then sacrificed.

The Science behind Proteins

Proteins are large molecules consisting of one or more chains of amino acids. There are some 21 different types of amino acids that combine to make protein. These amino acids when absorbed, help to make up blood plasma, tissues, and muscles. They also activate the vitamins we ingest. Proteins also help to speed up body chemical reactions and regulate the breakdown of carbohydrates and fats used for giving energy.

As with any nutrient in our body, there is only so much our body can use at one time, and the extra gets stored as carbohydrates or fats! (OOPS!*) The recommended daily intake for protein is : 0.8g per kg of body weight. If you are physically active everyday, you may have a higher protein requirement as compared to one who isn’t. 1.2g per kg of body weight is a good gauge for those who wishes to monitor their intake. Till date no research has shown that taking more protein than the recommended can actually prove to be more beneficial. Calories are also essential to ‘fuel’ up your body to utilize the protein.

Harmful effects of excess amounts of protein

  • Dehydration – Excess amount of protein requires extra water to break down, which could lead to dehydration. (Read below)
  • Calcium Loss – Depending on the type of protein you take, a high protein intake generates large amount of acids, which will lead to urinary calcium loss, resulting in negative calcium balance.
  • Stress – Extra protein intake can actually add additional stress to your bodily system.

Too much protein cause a buildup of toxic ketones. Ketones can ‘overwork’ your kidneys  as they try to flush out these ketones from our body. The process in itself can cause a loss of water, which could put you at risk of dehydration, especially so if you exercise heavily. The water loss from your body often gets misread as weight loss, but this water loss is actually losing muscle mass and bone calcium.

Therefore, think again before cutting down on your carbohydrates and substituting with proteins. Drastically reducing your carbohydrates intake may prompt your body to fight back harder. It does not mean I am opposing protein shakes, but I could not stress more on the importance of using it CORRECTLY, and EFFECTIVELY. Diet can be a tricky topic but with proper knowledge, you will soon find a balance that is optimal for your ideal health and energy level. Protein is afterall essential to our body’s normal functions and a key building block for muscles, bones and cartilage.

Start counting your protein intake today. If you are eating more than what you need, decrease the amount because you do not want to live with a misconception that could ruin your health in the long run.

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Do you workout with a mirror? How often do you check your form when exercising? Are you one who is aware of your bodily moves  all the time? Or just one who needs to be constantly reminded to sit tall and relax your shoulders?

I had a chat with my Pilates instructor the other day, and we got onto the subject of body awareness. Both of us agree, that many people who workout, and workout hard, may not have good body awareness. Some of us work by figures (counting the number of reps each time to make sure we improve), or some of us by weight (pounding on extra weight each session to dictate an improvement).

What is Body Awareness?

Full body awareness simply means paying attention to your body, its every movement, every feeling and every process. To work it in simpler terms, channel your focus and attention and feel onto every inch of your body, especially on the benefiting muscles while doing certain exercises. A runner will feel his core engaged, shoulders straight and ‘relaxed’, glutes and calves working with each step of the run. A trainer will feel his glutes ‘harden’ and tighten, core muscles clenched when doing a hip raise. (picture below)

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It’s simple, but requires much training to develop full awareness for your body. For those who work out really hard but lack full body awareness, you are missing out on the benefits of just simply paying attention to your body.

Imagine doing a certain move while working out, and to do it completely wrong. Probably working the wrong muscle groups, or worse inducing an injury.

Benefits of Full Body Awareness

If you are one of those truly motivated to keep fit, having body awareness will make you feel really good about yourself while you exercise. Feeling your muscles as they engage with your movements bring about a full mind and body partnership. When you are aware of your moves, the great precision performed with each action allows you to use your muscles more efficiently, and thus resulting in an overall improved performance. What we do not wish to have is to do multiple reps of each move, and to only reap the benefits of a few which are performed correctly.

Naturally having Body Awareness?

I believe body awareness has to be taught. It can be developed through practice. Some activities that help to cultivate this awareness include yoga, pilates, dancing, and any other sport that requires some sort of a ‘natural grace’.

Because of our high-stress jobs, emotional stress, fast paced living, environmental factors, or anything that gives our body discomfort make us lose the awareness to slow down, pay attention and rest our body. Women will tend to focus more on our appearance than how we actually feel. We want ‘visual results’, like forcing our bodies to lift heavier and heavier weights each time, pushing ourselves to achieve a highly difficult move, but in turn, we lost the awareness in the process.

How to develop Full Body Awareness?

I developed a strong sense of body awareness after practising Pilates. I have been at it for more than a year now. Before, I would always slouch on the couch, or in front of my laptop. I used to stand with my weight resting on one leg, sitting with my abdomen tucked in, shoulders collapsing to the front. Because I have reversed most of my bad postural habits, I am telling you now that it is possible to start somewhere to make the change.

pilates

Exercises like yoga, tai chi and pilates are excellent for helping develop body awareness, which in turn improves your balance and coordination. When we are at our neutral symmetrical balanced stance, the muscles on both sides of our body are working concurrently. A practice to include body awareness exercises into your training program will help you not just to achieve great results in your workouts, but also increases the quality of your daily life.

Body awareness takes time and practice to achieve. You should not be expecting to see results in a few lessons. Sign up for some classes, be patient and give yourself at least 10 lessons to learn how to awaken your senses to create such awareness. Speak to practicers of yoga or pilates, they will be able to provide good and positive advice and guidance that will help you in lessons. Learn, and you will find your way to a happier, more complete and more functional you.

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Aus13

 

August training has been awesome! Took a total of 9 days off workouts, but on other days I am sweating like insane! I may not be training hard to lose weight (because I am all skinny bones) but I definitely want to build some killer muscles.

This is undoubtedly the best thing I can do for myself right now. It keeps me focused, gives me more push, makes me feel better in the day and improves my sleep at night. I now feel great in my daily activites, and feel awesome working out! If I had been evading exercise for the last 16 years of my life and I am reversing it now, I am sure you can do it!

fitness quote

 

Quote credits to Spark-Fitness. 

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