Getting The Right Nutrients

It is not easy to sustain my fitness goals. I mean, I’ve been trying relatively hard over the past year to get back in shape but I am still far fetched from the fitspo I once was. I never want to give up my resolution in getting back in better shape.

I run, I gym and I try different ways to reduce my calorie intake. It is a no brainer that a combination of a well-balanced diet and exercise makes up the no-so-secret recipe to fitness. Of course, those who know me well knows that fitness might be something I yearn for but in fact, I was more inclined towards sustaining an active and healthy lifestyle. You have to be healthy and energetic to continue the endless struggle to full fitness.

So where do I get the vitality from? Well, I turn to Centrum, the world’s no. 1 multivitamin brand for assistance. Here is the review based on what I think about Centrum.

Centrum for Men is complete multivitamin specially formulated for men. Men and women have different body compositions and nutritional needs so I have to make sure that I am having the adequate and correct intake of nutrients. This multivitamin contains over 20 important nutrients that I find beneficial

It contains Vitamin B which plays an important role in converting protein, fats and carbohydrates into the energy I require for my runs and workouts. Furthermore, the Vitamins B6, D and magnesium help promote healthy muscles and hence doubling the recovery time I need before my next workout.

It needs no health scientist to advise you how crucial the role a strong heart plays while engaging in endurance sport. The lycopene, Vitamins B6, B12 and folic acids found in the multivitamin provides the necessary support. For those who ain’t an endurance athlete of any sort, these nutrients are still helpful since a strong heart translates into a lower risk of heart attack. 

On top of my multivitamins, I will start the day with a packet of Centrum Vitamin C 1000mg. All I need to do is to grab one sachet and pour the content into the cup of water. It’s part of my daily morning routine immediately upon waking up because I believe that an intake of water on an empty stomach will boost metabolic rate by 24% — especially important for someone like me with pathetically low metabolism.

The Centrum Vitamin C 1000mg is a delicious way to get my daily dose of immunity. It contains actual fruit juice extract. Every fizzy sip supports the immune system further with all the essential nutrients, electrolytes, and antioxidants that fill my nutritional gap in a refreshing burst of citrusy goodness.

Furthermore, as a runner, Vitamin C proves to be the key to sustaining performance as well as aiding in recovering. Vitamin C forms a protein which makes our tendons, ligaments and blood vessels. In addition, it helps to metabolise protein and repair the muscle fibre that might have been damaged by the long, exhausting run.

6 Healthier Alternatives to Your CNY Snacks

Chinese New Year is just around the corner and you could already see shops promoting their Chinese New Year goodies in your neighbourhood. Yet, with the year just began and you are probably in the mist of fulfilling your New Year’s resolutions with regards to health and fitness. I ain’t going to deny that CNY is always the season where my fitness journey went into a complete meltdown.

Over the past few days, I tried to research on the healthier alternatives to our traditional CNY goodies and realised that yes, we do have some options that are available here in Singapore.

1. OATS TREATS

Cookies make the best type of snacks because of its minute size and how fast we can gobble one piece down our throat. It’s not surprising that despite snacks like kuih bangkit contains roughly about 40kcals each, yet we tend to indulge in more than what we should be having. With the kind of calories we provided for our body, it is always better than these calories come together with the best kind of nutrients possible.

Oats provide a great source of vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin B1 and B5. It’s abundance of manganese also help provides for a strong bone structure. On the other hand, kuih bangkit contains coconut cream and while a little of the ingredient does not cause much of a harm but who could resist the temptation for more after the first bite?

Coco & Frank has been serving oats cookies and the catch? Their cookies are flourless, so you need not worry about the extra carbs that you’ll be digesting. They offer a variety of flavours, including macadamia (SGD8.90/100 grams), chocolate chips (SGD7.50/100 grams), Earl Grey Almond (SGD8.90/100 grams) and even Salted Egg (SGD18/120grams). You will definitely be spoilt for choices.

COCO & FRANK
12 Haji Lane, Singapore 189205
Opening Hours: 1130 – 1930
More Information: Call 6341 7041, or, visit www.cocoandfrank.com.sg

2. A Variant of Pineapple Tarts

Pineapple Tarts is as essential to CNY as turkey is for Thanksgiving. However, with roughly 82 kcals found in each tart, it could yet be another diet killer. However, BoxGreen has come up with this Pineapple Cluster, where you will still get that fruity pineapple aftertaste yet with more nutrients.

BoxGreen offers this Coco Pineapple Cluster in their limited edition The Fortune Corgi Box gift box (SGD68), launched specially for this CNY. Together with the pineapple delights, customers will also get to savour their Ginger Beetroot Snaps, Mandarin Chia Cookies and Natural Sambal Kacang Mix.

BOXGREEN
To Order: Call/Whatsapp 9771 6648, or, visit www.boxgreen.co/

3. Back to Basics

This is for those who wants to maximise their calories ‘usage’. Instead of choosing cashew cookies, go for unsalted cashew nuts instead. This will allow you to reserve more calories for more cashew nuts.

4. Swap your Bak Kwa For Fish

Bak Kwa is the staple food during every Chinese New Year, but it is the ultimate calorie bomb. A square piece of bak kwa contains about 180kcal, in which 4 pieces is enough to translate into a plate of chicken rice. While it is almost ridiculous to advise a total elimination of bak kwa during the first few days of CNY, but we have an alternative available.

The idea of replacing your pork bak kwa with fish jerky will reduce a bit of energy intake and boost some health benefits. Ocean King’s fish jerky isn’t a new snack in town, in fact, it has been around for the past 30 years. Offering 3 different flavours – Emperor Salmon, Tropic Tuna and Seared Marlin – the snack provides more nutrients as compared to the traditional bak kwa. The Omega-3 found in each piece of jerky can help reduce the risk of cancer as well as cardiovascular diseases.

OCEAN KING
To order: Visit oceanking.com.sg/order/
Enquiries: Email info@oceanking.com.sg, or, call 9423 2895

5. Dark is Better Than White

Chocolate is everyone’s love and definitely one of my greatest weakness. There are so many kinds of chocolate in the highly concentrated market that it is almost difficult not to throw some into your shopping basket. Most chocolates that are enticing are usually the milk chocolate and they contain a significant amount of fats.

Yet, don’t let that be the reason you are keeping a potential anti-oxidant superfood out of your snacks list. Bring in the dark chocolate. Dark chocolate, in comparison, contains more cocoa – since it is not diluted with cream and milk. It, therefore, has a higher nutritional value.

Cocoa contains flavonoids, which can help to improve vascular functions and lowering blood pressure. Further studies also have shown that these nutrients could also have help in normalising glucose level in the body – if taken in moderation.

6. Less Fried Snacks

Steering away from fried food can help. Instead of fried prawn crackers, opt for oven-baked ones. For those who are more health conscious, you might want to go vegan on your snacks, i.e. choosing seaweed crackers over prawn crackers.

Delcie’s is the bakery to go to if you are going for healthier snacks. It is no doubt that their selection of gluten-free, trans-fat-free and diabetes-friendly pastries and snacks has won them the Health Promotion Board (HPB)’s ‘Healthier Choice Bakery’ certification.

DELCIE’S
34 Whampoa West, #01-83, Singapore 330034
Opening Hours: 1100 – 2000
More information: delcies.com/chinese-new-year/

The article is just a recommendation to those who are more health conscious or those who are currently on a diet. This is the festive season after all and just enjoy the season without regretting too much (like I always do) afterwards.

The Importance of Warming Up

Warm-up is considered as one of the important aspects of exercising and probably the most important routine to get your workout started. Despite repeated reminder to warm up before embarking on your exercises or any physical activities, many of us will either choose to take it lightly or not to do it at all.

For someone who just started out on exercising not long ago, I understand the reason behind our reluctance towards warming-up. We either find warm-up a waste of time (I know we are all too eager to sweat it out) or think that the calories burnt during the course of warm-up can be seen as negligible.

I am a very injury-prone person, at least that is the case for the past half of the year. I’ve been doing cardio, gymming and training for half-marathon to the point that there was a period this year when I felt a sharp pain in the ankle of my left leg. The pain came every time I exert a force on it. I continued with my routine nevertheless, telling myself to forgo all the pain.

As many should have guessed it by now, an injury means that my form would be off and every workout that I was doing was not as effective as it ought to be. I eventually had to take a long break to recuperate. It was a month or so before I resumed training.

Now, everyone will say that injury is part-and-parcel of an active person. It’s like the more you drive on the highway, the higher the chances that you might be involved in an accident. *Touchwood*

Warming-up is the answer to injury prevention.

I know that you might have heard a lot about the relations between doing your warm-ups and injury prevention but let me just share with you the science part of it:

1. Increase Flexibility and Injury Prevention

 

Effective warm-ups can help to increase your body temperature and as well as that of the muscles. A ‘hotter’ muscle would represent a higher blood saturation. High blood saturation plays a part in increasing the elasticity of your muscles, which in turn, beneficial in enhancing the joint range of motion. This will hence prepare the muscles to counter sudden movements in the performance of technical training.

Furthermore, a warmed-up body will stimulate the flow of synovial fluid, hence reducing friction between the joints will allow them to move freely.

The effectiveness of muscular contractions also depends greatly on your body temperature. An increase in temperature will promote blood flow, increase blood saturation and hence, improve the contractility of your muscles and its capacity for work.

To achieve the full benefits of your warm-up, it is advised to do your stretching exercises immediately after you have warmed up. There is always a misconception to start right away with stretching because you have a higher chance of straining your muscles and damaging your connective tissues when your muscle temperature is relatively low.

2. Reduce Stress on the Heart

Warming up will help to increase your heart rate gradually, minimising the stress your heart has to handle.
Warming up will help to increase your heart rate gradually, minimising the stress your heart has to handle. (Image: enfermedadesytratamientos)

If being injury-prone and becoming more flexible do not give you enough reasons to start putting efforts into your warm-ups, this reason alone probably will.

You might have heard how people suffer from heart attacks during their exercises. One reason is due to the fact that they did not warm up enough.

Warming up helps to increase your heart beat slowly, giving your heart enough time to get used to the changes in the heart rate. A sudden increase of heart rate will result in an increase in the stress experienced by the heart, which will result in a heart attack.

When you warm-up gradually, you will also help your blood vessels to dilate and giving more space for blood circulation to occur. A dilated blood vessel will increase the efficiency for blood circulation and therefore decreasing the resistance the heart experienced to push the blood around the body.

3. Psychological Boost

Keeping yourself motivated ahead of your routine.
What’s better than keeping yourself motivated ahead of your routine? (Image: Pixabay)

Although there might not have studies that show evidence regarding the psychological aspect of warm-up, yet it does provide a very-much-needed boost ahead of your routine.

Personally, I’ve experienced the wonder warm-ups can do to your routine. Every time after a warm-up, I felt extremely pumped up and that gave me the motivation to go for an extra rep during gym or an additional kilometre for my runs.

Of course, any element that involves psychology has a different effect on different people. Some people, like me, tend to perform better with a warm-up, while others can just do as well without it. A review by Bill and Geoff Tancred stated that this could be due to some individuals ‘feeling hesitant or even afraid to perform maximally without warming-up’.

There could have been some truth in there, yet there is more to that.

When you embark on an exercise, your brain will release two kinds of hormones: adrenaline (epinephrine) and norepinephrine. These two hormones will increase your heart rate and, at the same time, allow more blood to flow into your muscles.

Together with the increase in the muscle temperature, which acts as a catalyst in lowering the activation energy for essential metabolic chemical reactions to occur in the body, will help your muscle to perform at an elevated level, enhancing your performance as a whole.

In addition, if you are involved in a competition or race, a warm-up prior to the actual event will be beneficial. You can make use of the duration of the warm-up to concentrate, which can help to discharge or increase aggression.

It is important to take note that the benefits of warm-up will be reduced and lost once the body returns to its resting states of heart rate, respiration and, body temperature.

I will share more about the different kinds of warm-up you can do in my subsequent article!

10 Reasons Why We Should Walk More

Walking is one of the simplest exercises that most people tend to neglect. It is the most basic aerobic exercise, yet the most underrated one. We walk to the kitchen, to the bedroom, to the food court, to the bus stop. The Japanese even came up with Shinrin Yoku, or forest bathing, as a preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine.

However, with the advancement of technology, the convenience of transportation and the sedentary nature of jobs here in Singapore, fewer people are spending enough time walking. Studies have shown that a minimum of 10,000 steps should be attained each day in order to achieve the best health benefits.

If you are lazy to walk, maybe you want to read the following 10 reasons why you should start accumulating the mileage.

1. It Helps To Prevent Diabetes (and lose weight too!)

(Image: American Diabetes Association)

Walking has the ability of shrink your abdominal fats, which makes it THE EXERCISE for diabetes prevention. In the latest study published in the International Journal of Obesity mentioned at the start of this article, researchers did a research among 111 postal-service workers of both genders. None had a personal history of cardiovascular disease. Each worker wore a sophisticated activity tracker for a week. At the end of the week, the researchers determined how many hours these workers had spent in sedentary and active position.

The results were not surprising at all. Workers who spent most of the day sitting down tend to have larger waist circumference, higher BMI and worse blood sugar control and cholesterol profiles as compared to those who were more active.

A 2014 report by UK’s Public Health England (PHE) showed that men whose waist line exceeded 102cm are five times more likely to develop diabetes as compared to those with smaller waist line. Women whose waist line exceeded 88cm have three times the risk.

The hypotheses behind could be that 1) abdominal obesity may cause fat cells to release inflammatory chemicals that disrupt the body’s response to insulin and that 2) obesity may trigger changes to the body’s metabolism that cause fat tissues to release substances involved in the development of insulin resistance.

Hence, by reducing abdominal fats, you could well reduce the risk of diabetes as well.

2. It Helps To Control Your Cholesterol Level

(Image: Healthworks)

A 2005 study published in the Official Journal of the American Society for Preventive Cardiology suggested a relation between an increase in walking time and a reduced non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (non-HDL-C) level. Non-HDL-C (otherwise known as Low DL-C) are the bad cholesterol (as opposed to HLD-C) which will eventually lead to atherosclerosis – a common underlying cause of cardiovascular diseases.

3. It Helps To Strengthen Your Heart

(Image: The Heart Foundation, Australia)

Lower LDL-C will, in turn, make your heart stronger. According to the researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, while the lowest and highest levels of physical activity stood the greatest risk of heart failure at 47% and 51% respectively, walking or cycling for 20 minutes each day helps reduce the risk by 21%.

4. It Helps To Reduce High Blood Pressure

(Image: Healthline)

Not surprisingly, walking can also help to reduce high blood pressure as well. Researchers at the Korea Institute of Sports Science in Seoul studied the blood pressure of 23 men with prehypertension and hypertension after a brisk walking session. Four of them were made to walk for 10 minutes while the rest, for 40 minutes. The results reflected that blood pressure dropped by at least 2 points after each type of exercising session.

In fact, reasons 2, 3 and 4 are interlinked. When you exercise, your heart becomes stronger and LDL-C will be eradicated from your system. Hence, your heart will become more efficient and able to pump blood throughout your body better. As the heart pushes more blood with each beat, it will beat slower and your blood pressure will, therefore, be under control.

5. It Helps To Tones Your Legs And Butt

(Image: Verywell)

Since walking puts your quadriceps, hamstring and glutes and your lower leg muscles to work, it will eventually help with the toning of your legs and (look here girls) glutes (aka butt) muscles.

6. It Helps With Your Mental Health

(Image: Sandstone Trail)

Walking helps to trigger endorphins, which can help to promote relaxation, and prevents anxiety and depression. Since walking is some form of exercise, and exercise also aids in the production of serotonin and norepinephrine hormones – the neurotransmitters that can help to eradicate depression.

Furthermore, sport and exercise psychologist K. Kip Matthews also expressed how exercise can help to ward off depression by enhancing the body’s abilities to respond to stressors.

He said in an interview with CNN, “What appears to be happening is that exercise affords the body an opportunity to practice responding to stress, streamlining the communication between the systems involved in the stress response. The less active we become, the more challenged we are in dealing with stress.”

Furthermore, walking (especially in the park or garden during the day) will expose you to more fresh air, and hence, more oxygen. This pure oxygen will provide each and every cell in your system a boost of energy, making you feel better and energetic for the rest of the day.

7. It Helps To Prevent Dementia

(Image: Cracked Hat Illustration)

According to 2010 statistics provided by the Ministry of Health (MOH), there are about 20,000 Singaporeans suffering from dementia, with a prevalence rate of 5.7% among those aged 65 and above. However, the number is expected to rise to about 45,000 by 2020. On the other hand, the Alzheimer’s Disease Association of Singapore (ALZ) projects such cases to increase to 103,000 by 2030.

However, there is a way we can prevent dementia. Studies have shown that walking can help reduce the risk of the disease by 50%. A study led by Dr. Kirk Erickson in 2011 figured out the connection between exercising and an increased hippocampal volume. Hippocampus, a crucial part of the brain where long-term memories are stored, appears to shrink in size as one ages. Yet, the study found out that even simple exercises like aking a 30-40 minutes brisk walk a few times a week is capable in increasing its volume by 2%, effectively reversing age-related loss in volume as a result.

And even if you are still young, Dr. Erickson advised, “The earlier you begin, the greater the protection for your brain – but exercise leads to improved brain function at any age.”

8. It Helps Spark Creativity

(Image: Alejandro Torres)

German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking”. Even contemporary French philosopher Frédéric Gros assented with him.

Gros wrote in A Philosophy of Walking, “Walking can provoke these excesses: surfeits of fatigue that makes the mind wander, abundances of beauty that turn the soul over, excesses of drunkenness on the peaks, the high passes (where the body explodes).”

He elaborated further, “Walking ends by awakening this rebellious, archaic part of us: our appetites become rough and uncompromising, our impulses inspired. Because walking puts us on the vertical axis of life: swept along by the torrent that rushes just beneath us.”

9. It Helps To Promote Healthier Skin

(Image: Lionesse Gem)

If you want to ‘look’ healthy, healthier skin could be your answer. Walking helps to increase the circulation of blood and thus provides the necessary nutrients your skin requires to be strong, firm and elastic.

The sunlight that you are exposed to during your walk helps your body in the production of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is said to have an anti-inflammatory effect on healthy skin, which works effectively well against acne outbreak. Furthermore, since Vitamin D is essential for the proper control of smooth muscle cell function, cardiac muscle function, and the proper formation of many different cells throughout your body, it can affect how well you age.

It is recommended that approximately 5–30 minutes of sun exposure between 10 AM and 3 PM at least twice a week to the face, arms, legs, or back without sunscreen usually lead to sufficient vitamin D synthesis, and healthier skin.

10. It Provides A Great Bonding Time

What’s better than to take a stroll with your friends and talk about your life while enjoying the scenery?


Take part in Step Challenge 2017!

Step Challenge is back for its second season. From 22 July till 9 August, the participant who clocked the most number of steps from each category will walk away (no pun intended) with an Apple Watch.

There are six categories:

For individuals, there are the Active NSmen, Active Youth (< 25 year-old), Active Women and Active Masters (>40 year-old).

Participants can also take part as a team (3-4 pax per team) under Active Families & Friends and Active Corporates.

Interested parties can download and install the ActiveSG App from App Store or Google Play. Sign in and select S’pore Step Challenge on your Home screen and join one individual and one team challenge. Thereafter, you will just need to launch the app every day in order to clock your steps!

Participants who clock 50,000 steps during the campaign period will be able to redeem to a limited edition NS50 Jerrycan water bottle. Furthermore, these participants will also be eligible for lucky draw and stand a chance to win S$100!

Health benefits and material benefits coming together in one. So get up from your comfort zone now and start moving!

Feel free to check out the official website to learn more about the campaign.

No Time To Run? You Don’t Need Too Much Time Actually

Always find yourself not having time to exercise? Looks like you’ve greatly estimated that amount of time required to keep yourself active and healthy.

In a research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers have come to a surprising conclusion that participants who run less than 150 minutes per week have lower mortality risk.

The research examined the associations of running with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality risks in 55,137 adults, between the age of 18 to 100, who received at least 1 extensive medical examination between 1974 and 2002. Out of 5,089 of adults who ran 51-80mins and 81-119mins reported a death rate of 29.7% and 29.8% respectively.

On the other hand, among the 42,121 sedentary non-runners, there is a death rate of a whopping 45.9%. Death rate due to cardiovascular diseases for non-runners is at 17.8%, compared to the mean death rate of 9.6 among runners of various intensity.

Moving is Key

PUT ON YOUR RUNNING SHOES: Even a slow jog around your neighbourhood for 20mins can lower your mortality risk. (Image: KOTB)

The key to a healthier lifestyle is to keep active. According to the aforementioned report, the group of participants who do not run accounted for 16% of all-cause and 25% of cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality.

Another study, The Copenhagen City Heart Study, done in 2015 also managed to support the report. The result from the later study claimed that “compared with sedentary nonjoggers, 1 to 2.4 hour(s) of jogging per week was associated with the lowest mortality”.

The reason behind this is simple. When you exercise, your heart beat increases in order to pump more blood to supply your muscle tissues with oxygen. Over time, such involuntary actions will help to expand both the atria (the top part of your heart where blood return from the rest of your body – except for your lungs) and the ventricles (the bottom part of your heart where blood is pumped out of your heart) to be enlarged. This is, therefore, help to increase the efficiency of your heart.

As more blood is able to be pumped out of the body, it will increase the flexibility of the arteries too. This is to allow more blood flow during exercise and also prevent arteries blockage even when you are in sedentary position. As a result, the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as coronary artery disease (CAD) will be greatly reduced.

More doesn’t mean better

However, although we always encourage everyone to push their limits, it is advisable not to overdo and overexert yourself. It is especially so when your primary goal is just to be healthy.

U-SHAPE RELATION: Studies suggest a U-shaped association between mortality rates and the amount of running you do. (Image: JACC)

Studies by the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research in 2012 have shown that excessive endurance exercise may lead to adverse cardiovascular effects, such as abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmias) and heart attack (acute myocardial infarction). This is because strenuous endurance exercise such as ultramarathon is capable to causing your atria and right ventricle to overload, hence resulting in the buildup of scar tissues in the heart.

The heart valves will eventually become thicker (patchy myocardial fibrosis), therefore “creating a substrate for atrial and ventricular arrhythmias”. The Mayo Foundation research also warned that long-term excessive exercise could also lead to coronary artery calcification, diastolic heart failure (diastolic dysfunction), and large-artery wall stiffening.

In conclusion, as long as you put aside some time, be it 15 minutes, 30 minutes or 1 hour, to keep yourself active, you will find yourself leading a healthier lifestyle.

Looks like the excuse of having NO TIME TO RUN is no longer valid anymore.

Eat To Lose Weight

People like me have lower metabolism weight, hence we tend to go on an extreme diet to cut down on our calorie intake in order to lose weight. Yes, we probably need to cut down on about 500 calories per day to lose at shed at least 1-2 pounds of weight. However, here’s a quick fact: the more extreme your diet routine is, the more ineffective it will be.

And the reason why? Because starvation can lead to the decrease of your metabolic rate.

1) Your body will go into conservation (or starvation) mode and it will stop burning calories for you. AND THAT IS NOT GOOD. Yep, our body does burn calories even when we are at sedantary position. Digestive metabolism (or thermic effect of food) for example, helps you to burn 10-15 percent of your daily calorie intake (that equates to about 250kcal if your suggested daily calorie intake is 2200kcal).

2) Starving yourself will also lead to losing your lean body mass, which is your muscles. You won’t burn as much fats in the end. Muscle actually helps to increase your metabolic rate. Research has shown that 1 pound of muscle actually burns between 7 to 10 calories per day. In contrast, a pound of fat burns only 2 to 3 calories.

So what should we do instead? If eating too much gains weight yet going on an extreme diet doesn’t work as well, there must be the golden mean. Balance your diet. I know we heard that a lot from the dietitian, Health Promotion Board (HPB)’s advertisements and fitness literature, but how do we get about making sure we eat enough yet lose weight as well?

(Header image: Athleta)

Increase intake of high-fiber foods

HAVE IT: Fibre can help lower blood sugar, and cut cholesterol. (Image: The Asian Age)

These include your cereals, fresh vegetables, and whole wheat bread, etc. High-fiber foods are found to contain appetite-suppressant, which will make us more satiated and reduce our tendency to snack. This, in turn, will help with the regulation of your blood sugar level and also cholesterol level – which in turns help to improve your metabolism.

It is recommended that adults take 30 grams of fibre each day.

Personallu, in order to make sure that I am retrieving the necessary amount of fibre that my body requires each day, I’ve, in fact, replaced my rice for oatmeal completely.

I have my daily serving of Quaker Instant Oatmeal in the afternoon to go with my other side dishes. A serving of the oatmeal (35g) consists of just 129kcal and 3.5g of dietary fibre. I normally have 4-6 tablespoons, which kind of tally up to about 1.5 – 2 servings.

To add on to the list of benefits, a high-fibre diet can also reduce the risk of stroke, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.

However, if you’ve decided to make the switch, it is recommended to increase your fibre intake a little at a time to prevent fluctuant and bloating due to the excessive gas forming inside your stomach. It will not be that comfortable, trust me.

Don’t eat only when you are famished, but when you are hungry

As mentioned above, starvation can lead to the decrease in your metabolism. Scientifically, metabolism refers to ‘the amount of energy expended by an organism in a given time period – usually daily‘. To put it in layman term, it is the amount of energy burnt by your body to function.

For weight loss, we will need to focus on your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) – how much energy your body burns when it is at rest. Weight loss is simple mathematics – you’ll just need to burn more energy than your body consume. Hence, it is better to increase your overall BMR so that you can achieve weight loss without embarking on a torturous fitness campaign.

Believe it or not, the timing and frequency of which you have your food determine how much energy your body burns throughout the day.

It is important to understand the difference between famish and hunger. Famish is when you go through a long period without eating, which is especially that case when you ‘eat by schedule’. Our three meals schedule that we are most familiar with are in fact about 6 hours apart. Yet, your body requires enough fuel to produce the energy that we require.

The benefits of snack when you are hungry in between your meals (but don’t snack an hour and a half before your meal) is to prevent you from becoming famished by the time of your meal. We tend to overeat when we become over-hungry. If you are afraid of those extra calories, start drinking your plain water. Water helps to keep you full – it works for me most of the time. This will help in preventing your body to go into the conservation mode that I’ve mentioned earlier.

Smart snacking

SUPER SNACKS: Nuts contain unsaturated fats and protein which can help control your appetite. (Image: Connect Vending)

Of course, the kind of food that you’ve decided to snack on is as important as well. You don’t want to let your efforts go down the drain.

If you get hungry in between meals, opt for healthier snacks. Choose those with more fiber and protein and most importantly, lesser calories. Make it a habit of reading the nutrition label, and avoiding munching on snacks that are high in trans-fats and calories. If you are like me who needs a daily dose of chocolate to kerb the stress levels, feel free to opt for dark chocolate. My favourite would be the 75% dark chocolate. It contains more cocoa which helps to make you feel happier. When you are less stress, you won’t go for emotional eating.

If you are like me who needs a daily dose of chocolate to kerb the stress levels, feel free to opt for dark chocolate. My favourite would be the 75% dark chocolate. It contains more cocoa which helps to make you feel happier. When you are less stress, you won’t go for emotional eating.

I also go for nuts whenever I feel hungry. Nuts are very good source of protein and can help to control your appetite as well. Furthermore, it contains the unsaturated fats (more on that in a while).

Take your fats

GOOD FATS: Fats like Omega-3 helps to reduce appetite yet increase metabolism. (Image: Active Body Nutrition)

You didn’t read it wrongly. Go ahead and eat the fats.

However, you have to choose the correct kind of fats. There are 3 kinds of fats:

    1. Saturated fatsFound mostly in red meat and dairy products, saturated fats are not as healthy as the unsaturated ones but it is not exactly bad for the body either.
    2. Trans fatsThese are the fats that are bad for your body and will sabotage your plans entirely. Studies have shown that industrially-produced trans fats made from hydrogenated oils are linked to greater risk of death from coronary heart disease.
    3. Unsaturated fats (Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated)
      These are the healthy kind of fats that you should be including in your diet. Unsaturated fats promote satiety, hence reducing after-meal cravings. It can be found in nuts (as mentioned previously), certain fishes such as tuna and salmon, olives and avocados. I would like to give Omega-3 fatty acids a special mention. These fatty acids include alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). These polyunsaturated fats are commonly found in fishes and are especially beneficial to our human body if the right amount is taken. 

      In a study done by Bastard et el in 2006, low-grade inflammation of the white adipose tissue (where energy not used by the body are stored as fats) can lead to obesity, and subsequently, insulin resistance, impaired glucose tolerant and even diabetes. Omega-3 will help to reduce such inflammation and thus helps control fat deposits in your body. It has also been proven that Omega-3 can help to build lean muscle when you take it as a supplement to your exercise routine. This is extremely important to your weight loss programme because a pound of muscle burns more energy than a pound of fats! It will hence provide a boost towards your BMR as well.

      Although unsaturated fats can be beneficial, yet it should be taken with moderation. It must be noted that there are some polyunsaturated fats like the Omega-6, despite its positive health effects, will cause the body to produce pro-inflammatory substances when taken excessively. Hence, a balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 intake in the ratio of between 1:1 and 1:4 is recommended.

According to dietary recommendation by the HPB, total fat intake should be limited to 25-30% of your total calorie intake – 10% of which from your saturated fats and the remainder from unsaturated fats.

Eat slowly

There’s no need to rush when you are eating. Enjoy the taste of the delicacy as it is being brought into your month. Studies have shown that it takes 20 minutes for our brain to register that we have eaten enough (satiation). Hence, the best way to prevent overeating is to eat relatively slowly.

Another research by Andrade et el (2012) has found out that, the most advisable strategy to maximise satiation and regulate energy intake is to allow yourself time to ‘drink sufficient quantities of water along with a given meal while slowing down eating rate’.

I’ve tried it personally as well – the slower you eat, the faster you’ll feel full (although I still eat faster than most of my peers).

100 Days of Fitness

8 February – 18 May, the 100 days that literally shape myself.

I embarked on a 100-day fitness journey earlier this year to kick start a few of the New Year resolutions that I promised myself.

It took me a month into the year to finally embark on the journey. For a person who has been

Let’s look at my past ‘track record’.

2011: 

2012:

 

2015:

I’ve been plaque by obesity since young, which I didn’t really bothered until recent years. As I grow older, I become more concerned about the number on the weighing scale and, most important of all, how I look overall.

I’ve always wanted to go on a fitness journey since last year so I finally find the opportunity to get it going. 8 February marks the first day of my post-Poly life after submitting my last assignments the day before. I decided that I shall start slow – with a 100-day fitness routine to build the base for my long-term fitness plan in the future.

Of course, that 100-day fitness plan that I embarked on didn’t really turn out to be full workout mode. That means, to be frank, I didn’t really exercise and workout every single day. There are rest days, there are cheat days. But all in all, the thing that stayed constant throughout is my total calorie intake – which I set not to exceed 1, 500kcal. I went on to remove fast food and sugary drinks from my meals to ensure that what I put into my body will not jeopardise the effort that I’ve actually put in.

This 100-day programme was also planned in a way that it compliments my race training for the 2 half-marathons that I took part in in the first half of the year (Sundown Marathon and 2XU Compression Run).

In order to jot down a ‘complete report’ for my programme, I decided that I shall combine my relevant Dayre posts into one long omnibus blog post here.

It is very important to take photos of your progress throughout a fitness journey. So, this was taken prior to 8 Feb.

DAY 1 – 8 FEB

Started out the entire programme with a 5KM run with Vivian on a rainy Wednesday evening. Since it was raining, we didn’t get to run around the usual route around Marina Bay, but instead at the 100Plus Promenade just outside the National Stadium.

Featuring my fitness partner right from the start.

This marks the first ‘healthier meal’ after those binge eating throughout the Chinese New Year. It took me months after the commencement of the programme to realise how important it is to have a balanced diet. I’ll elaborate more on what I’ve learn with regards to dieting later.

DAY 5 – 12 FEB

Apart from just running, I also make sure that I build muscle mass. By adding muscle into your body, it will help to increase your metabolism – which means your body tend to burn more calories on its own when you have more muscle mass. I hadn’t been to the gym for quite some time prior to 12 Feb and I feel so lousy after each reps. The core strength was not there and out of the sudden, I feel weak.


But I understand one thing is that, even Arnold Schwarzenegger started out somewhere. No one is strong from the start. The only few things that are between my current self and the self that I aspire to become will be perseverance and effort. The sad fact is that no one can do it for me, it is up to me to make that break, to achieve what I’ve planned for myself. I round up the gym session with a 5km jog that evening to take advantage of the cool weather that is outside.

That’s probably the last time I combined core training and race training in one evening. Here’s another that I’ve realised over time: Focus and concentrate on one thing at a time. There’s no point dividing my energy to different training, it will just make you more tired and reduces the entire efficiency of your workout.

DAY 12 – 19 FEB


Day 12 was the start of a more serious race training regime that I put myself through. By then, it was just 5 weeks before Sundown and I was kind of worried that I might not train my physique and stamina in time for the race. New milestone achieved! I finally managed to push myself to run/jog non-stop for a good 12km within 80mins before spending the next 20mins walking the remaining 2km to cool down.

Progress pic after 15 days.

DAY 29 – 8 MAR
One month into the programme.

It wasn’t easy maintaining those weight. I remember I deviated from my diet plan for one week back then and my weight went back to 70kg. I admit those are some moments throughout the entire plan that actually caused some inevitable setbacks. It demoralises me a little because for so much that I’ve put in – my heart, my sweat and my time, there are actually possibility of it being undone just because of my indiscipline.

I recalled that this was the period in which I was down with a middle ear infection. I had to minimise on my exercise routine because I was afraid that sweat going into my ears was going to further implicate the infection.

As long as I got a little better, I returned to the gym and the road as well to resume my trainings.

DAY 43 – 22 MAR

Closing into 50% of the entire programme, I finally get to see some legitimate improvements. The ‘abs’ are showing, despite me having to do some flexing. Although there are still visceral fats – which I haven’t got rid of it even up till this day – I still find pride in the kind of improvement that I see on myself as the days passes.

I remembered how I used VSCO to enhance my photo a little because that perfectionist mentality in me was not that comfortable with the idea of posting up my progress picture (which requires me to bare the top half of my body) onto Dayre – even though it’s only followed and, most probably, read by my closest allies. I have never been satisfied with how I look, even though that can sound superficial.

Unlike others who have unwavering motivation and determination, my progress is slower and henceforth, pale in comparison.

DAY 46 – 25 MAR: SUNDOWN MARATHON 2017

Throughout the 45 days of the programme, it was not all just about gym-ing, weight loss and reducing visceral fats. Like I’ve mentioned earlier on, the routines actually form part of my training ahead of 2 half-marathons.

The big night finally arrived on the 25th of March.

Donning the race bib with such a nice number combination, 23450, I presumed that it would be a lucky race for me. My definition of a ‘lucky race’ would mean that there will be chances for me to outperform my past self and clock my personal best (PB).

This is not the first time that we ran together in the same race. Alright, maybe with the exception of Kishan. He was already running at the half-marathon level while we were challenging ourselves over at the 10km category.

Running 21 is, no doubt, totally different from running 10. It requires more than stamina and speed. At some point, you will realise that pace and speed will be at the back of your mind. Those would probably be the secondary thing in your mind, especially when you are a leisure runner and that the idea of half-marathon running seems rather new to you. As you cover beyond what you’ve tuned yourself to run, the exhaustion and the diminishing will to continue running will start to take over your mind eventually.

It is the battle of perseverance and how your body responds to the long duration of physical activity. Viv and I considered ourselves to be more race-fit as compared to the rest. We had been preparing ourselves physically and mentally week in and week out.

Despite it being the second half-marathon that I’ve attempted, it was still inevitable that I am feeling nervous. Signs of regret can be

As I sprinted past the finishing line, I was so relieved and that sense of accomplishment was real. Despite that, it still an easy race because 1) I was running on a full bladder, and 2) I had a stomachache halfway.


It’s a sub-3hr in terms to moving time (which means I deducted the time I’ve spent during in the toilet). It was pale in comparison if I were to pitch my own timing against the majority of the runners. My official net time was 03:06:34, as reflected on my e-certificate. Nevertheless, there was an improvement from my previous 21km (Army Half Marathon last year). I managed to run/jog for a good 15km before I started walking. I could remember how I actually struggled after the 10km mark during last year’s AHM. A 30-mins improvement is really something to cheer for.

DAY 50 – 29 MAR

After 50 days of trying to get myself into a fitness regime, I was finally halfway through. The progress had been slow but at least results are gradually showing. For the past few days, it seems that my weight is stable at the 68-something region so it has been a morale boost for me.

 

By Day 50, I realised that work out alone is not adequate. There is a saying: “You can’t out-exercise a bad diet”. Giving your body the correct nutrition is as important as conditioning your body in the gym. I started out going all out with a low/non-carb diet but as time goes, I realised that I get a little lethargic – less tenacity than I used to prior to the addition of the diet plan. No carb diet is not sustainable at all because carbohydrates are the nutrients that provide our body with energy. Without enough carbohydrates powering your cells and bodily functions, it is inevitable that one will lose their energy fast.
I brought back carbohydrates into my diet slowly. It wasn’t any kind of carbohydrates but whole grains. Wholegrains contains Vitamin E, selenium and phytic acid which help prevent blood vessel damage. The fibre found in whole grains will also aid in making you feel full, hence reducing risk of over-eating.
I think I will elaborate on whole grain diet next time.
I eventually opted for a low-calorie yet well-balanced diet because the most important thing is that I’ll have to give my body the correct nutrition to compliment my workout routine. Fitness is more than a programme for better well-being, it’s science and it’s art. I am still learning about the importance of nutrition and the science behind nutrition and exercise as I work towards my long-term fitness goal.

It is true to say that exercising may well not be the most difficult part of the journey, dieting is. There are many times that I make to control myself to not eat those things that I love. Looking back at my past eating habit, it kind of evident how I allow myself to end up in the unfit state.

But then again, the stricter your diet is, the more it will fail. The more you restrict yourself, the more you’ll crave for the thing that you want to it, and as the craving builds up, there will be a high probability that you will binge eat and undo what you’ve worked so hard for.

Hence, I gave myself leeway – or what they call it ‘cheat meal’. Once or twice every week, depending on my active level that week, I will allow myself to eat whatever I’d like to have – be it BBQ or non-whole-grain carbs or even process food. The only thing that stayed constant is the amount of sugar intake.

What’s a better way to keep track on your calorie intake than doing meal prep? Meal prep, to simply put it, is to prepare your meals way ahead so that you wouldn’t need to think of what to have that week. The calorie counter is clearer and more controlled when you cook your food by yourself. Hence, for the next half of the programme, I decided to try out meal prepping and I admit, I did have fun doing all the research, grocery shopping and cooking. Yet, it can be quite time-consuming at times so after the programme ended, I just try to meal prep as and when I am free. The rest of the meal I’ll just make do with what my family has cooked and just replace my rice with my oatmeal.

DAY 54 – 2 APR

One week after Sundown, I put on my running shoes once again to compete in my second half-marathon of the year. I think I went a little nuts when I decided that signing up for two half-marathon back-to-back (I mean, week after week) was a good idea.
I had not actually recovered from the previous run and I hadn’t been going for a time trial or anything in between these two runs. I thought me condition was going to be real bad because 1) The recovery run that I had three days before 2XU was horrendous; 2) I am never a morning runner. Flagging off at 0515 for me was just too early.
Surprisingly, I managed to keep my pace for the first 13km under 7 mins/km (roughly 8.5kph). Although I was 2 mins away from clocking a 10km under 1 hour, but today’s timing is already a PB, so I’ve nothing more to ask for.
I’ve also managed to push myself to run for 17km consecutively, a feat that I still looked back at it with awe. As I grow into more of a frequent runner, I suspect that I might have developed ‘runner’s diarrhoea’. I don’t know if that actually makes sense but for the two races that I’ve went, I ended up with stomachache halfway through. I had two toilet breaks at Sundown, the second after slowing down due to the pain in my abdomen at 12km. At 2XU, I had to relieve myself after the 17km mark.
I planned to walk of 2km before completing the race running.
That’s when all good things come to an end. I wasn’t that sure if I’ve actually over-exert myself for the first half of the race but my stitches acted up when I was about to resume my run at 19km. I eventually took a deep breathe, held my hand against my abdomen and completed the race with a final 100m sprint.
Started the race well but didn’t do myself much justice towards the end.

Didn’t get to run with Kishan because he was running with his army friend so I went to find him after my run for this photo. He was another one who ran 2 21km over two weekends and I think it’s already an incredible feat for the both of us because we only started running over the past few years.

Yapz, be proud of your boyfriend.


One race, a few PBs:

– Fastest half-marathon.
– Fastest 10km during an actual race.
– Longest continuous run: 17km.

I realised a thing about long distance running is that, one you started walking, you might never put on that pace again once you resume. Fatigue tends to get the better of you and you start to lose all the momentum.

Kishan and I were like saying that we are going to take a break from all these running. Meanwhile, I gave myself a few days to recover before heading back to the gym at the end of the week.

DAY 68 – 16 APR


It was less than a month to Graduation and I was trying to make sure I grind enough to make me look more presentable on that very special occasion. I stared into the mirror, as I always do to check on my ‘progress’, I could finally see some ‘abs’. Although it was made possible with the good lighting in my parents’ room, I couldn’t help but felt rather proud of how far I’ve come.

Of course, it wasn’t all smooth – that’s one thing that I’ve to really point out. There were multiple occasions that my self-doubts clouded over my mind. I became more sensitive towards the numbers – on the weighing scales and on my food diary.

I tried to make sure that I kept within a certain weight range so that I could be classified as ‘acceptable weight’. No one could really understand how is it like to be labelled as ‘overweight’, and worst still, ‘severely overweight’ for a good decade of your life. Many people came out with campaigns or what sorts saying that be confident with how you look. I used to be that kind of people. Perhaps not accurately true. I was more of having a care-less attitude towards my own weight and physical looks. My lack of physical activities up till 2013 showed how lackadaisical I was towards any attempt to get myself in shape and healthier state.

Indeed, a person doesn’t change overnight. There are many factors contributing to the change in my attitude towards fitness. I think being fit is something more than the ability to be gungho in anything physically straining or to have abs. I am guilty of the allegations that I’ve just put forward. Being fit is more of getting your body to function healthily and hence to lift your confidence.

DAY 82 – 30 APR

 




DAY 94 – 10 MAY

How my basket looks like during most of my grocery shopping during this period.

Another 6 days to go.

DAY 100 – 18 MAY


Day 5 (First day at the Gym) vs Day 100.

Not saying that there is really some major transformation like those you’ve seen in fitness magazine or motivational sites but as I look at my progress, I am glad that I actually made the effort to step out of my confort zone

100 days passed by rather quickly and I kind of feel a little sense of achievement here. Although I didn’t actually work out every single day throughout the duration of the programme but in these 100 days, I’ve already worked out more than my past 5 years combined. Exercising slowly becomes a habit and I no longer felt obligated.

There are many ups and downs during this journey, just like the fluctuation of my weight. I’ve been ranting a lot about it on Dayre with regards to my weight issues. But this is one of my struggles – together with my lower body problem (how I got so frustrated with my broad hits and the fat deposit along my thighs).

By Day 100, I managed to weigh in at 66.8kg. I was around 69-70kg 100 days before. Weight dropped but I think I’ve actually gained some muscle mass along the way so the programme has been a successful one.

Reflection
The entire journey, like I kept reiterating, was never easy. There are times I felt happy because my form improved (either in the gym or running) and my weight dropped. But there are also times when I got very emotionally affected by the dropped in form (especially after not gymming for a while) and during times when my weight increases (usually after feasting or when my body resumes its water retention after my runs). I know this entire thing should be a healthy one, but I need to admit that it does affect me mentally sometimes.

But eventually, I learnt that these are just part and parcel of the process. I can’t possibly ensure everything suits my plan. At the end of the day, as long as the results are visible, nobody actually cares what happened during the process.

It’s just like life. In life, there are many expectations people have on you. At the end of the day, people are just going to judge you based on whether you’ve exceeded, met or do not meet the expectations. Not many people will be interested in the process (although I still take time to blog about this). And what should you do? Like fitness, you just have to continue working hard, keep on trying – if this doesn’t work, try another way. Take my diet plan for example, it no-carb diet doesn’t work in the long run, research and develop a new kind of diet that suits you and your activity level. Staying consistent is key, but of course, you’ve got to improve yourself along the way. Lay out a plan for yourself (like my diet and exercise routine) and force yourself to meet your own expectations first. There is the ultimate goal but to reach goals, you need steps and these small milestones can be your steps.

Throughout these 100 days, I’ve really learnt a lot. I’ve definitely become a stronger and more confident person than I was before (knowlegable as well, given a number of readings and research I’ve done). I became more disciplined as a result.

I couldn’t have done it without support from my friends as well. Viv, Yapz and Wanz. They’ve been motivating me via verbal means and/or physically as well. It gave me the strength to perservere on despite those few times when I almost wanted to give up completely.

Although 100 Days of Fitness ended a month back, I’ve continue to pick myself up from where I’ve left. Fitness is not just a 100-day goal or programme, it should be a lifetime one. I admit I am starting to get rather lax in terms of gymming and running, but own time own target. Fitness should add positivity to your life, not more burdens.

The Night is Ours: Sundown Marathon 2016

28 May, 2016. It was a night that I will never forget. For the first time, I am running a 10km race with a group of friends (Let alone Will Run 2013 since it was a school event). The Sundown Marathon 2016 marks my second 10km long distant competitive run (after 2XU Compression Run in April) since I returned to running after taking a short break last year.

Initially, I signed up for the run alone. It was until Yapz told me that the other girls and her were also running the same event (except Viv – she participated in the 21km run) on Twitter when I was complaining that I did not have much training leading up to the actual day.

And so, we decided to run together in the end.

It kind of reminded me about running Will Run back in SRJC and the trainings we received almost every PE lesson.

We took a photo before we headed to the 10km starting point.

Oops, I think my shadow had kind of eclipsed Charmz face.

The race supposed to start at 10PM but because there were too many participants that they dispatched us through different ‘waves’. I think by the time we started to run, it was already 10.20pm. The 4 of us basically ran in pairs: Charmz with me while Mich with Yapz.

By the 1st KM, Charmz and I were separated from Mich and Yapz. Despite the early human congestion, we managed to squeeze our way to the front and avoided the bottlenecked route. While Charmz ran all the way, I needed to make a few timeout during the course of the race. Despite that, I was in a much better condition to run compared to during that 2XU Run. This time, maybe because someone was there to motivate and pace me, I managed to only brisk walked for just about 1KM.

Maybe it’s beneficial to have a friend to run beside you during such event.

We continued running and didn’t get to meet the other two girls until when we were on our final kilometer. While we were heading towards our final 100m, we decided to sprint all the way. I swear if I used that speed throughout the race, I would have been on a prize-winning journey (of course I am not that disillusioned into thinking that I could be a road champion). To be honest, I almost ran out of breathe and consciousness.

By the time I crossed the finishing line, two things came to my mind: toilet and water. I needed to use the latrine and I was very much dehydrated. Here comes the horror story: the queue to the toilet was the longest queue (apart from the one during Lee Kuan Yew’s tribute last year) I’ve ever encounter. It felt like gravity was so strong that it was pulling everyone’s blatter and the contents in it.

Charmz and I went to the toilet at Promenade MRT instead before we returned to wait for the other two to complete their race.

We managed to meet with the Mich and Yapz back at the starting point. I went straight to the water station to gobble down a few cups of water before we find an area to lepak while waiting for Viv and Yapz’s bf (and his friends) to return from the 21KM race.

It was a little past midnight.

While prostration had taken over us, we tried to squeeze that remaining energy and zest to enjoy the rest of the night. Because, as the organisers said, “The night is ours”. We didn’t want to waste the night.

And so, it became a night of cheerleading, dancing and photoshooting.

Ya. Cheerleading. I wasn’t even kidding. But I swear they looked legit though.

We were so loud that the guy beside us decided to just take out his earpiece to isolate himself while he was reading his book. We were semi-conscious of our surrounding but I think our lassitude made us a little zappy.

Despite that, I almost fell flat asleep in the middle the road where a Ferrari or a McLaren would have speeded past every September. Before I really fell asleep, Yapz’s boyfriend and his friends joined us after the run. I could here every pathetic whine they made because of their strained muscles. We couldn’t help but to laugh.

Viv joined us a little later and she seems to be alright. Perfectly alright. We applauded her for her completion. And that means we can take a group photo with our medals finally at around 3.30AM.

We just spent the entire night with one another.

We might just decide that this might become our annual run, where we will all run for Sundown every year. I heard someone said that we could try 21KM next year. I am holding my breathe.