Friday, January 3, 2014

WEIGHT LOSS TIPS PART 2: EXERCISE

First off, let me just say that I am SO, SO, SO, SO HAPPY that my first blog post received 500 pageviews in less than 24 hours! I know, I know, they’re just pageviews, pssh. Nevertheless, it made my day knowing that there are people out there who are actually interested in what I have to say. And really, it means a lot to me because fitness is something very close to my heart and something that I like talking about for hours on end. Plus, I never thought people would actually think of me as someone credible enough to give fitness advice in the first place.

Nonetheless, I thank you guys for your support J And as promised, I’m here to continue with talking about weight loss, but I’m going to zero in on EXERCISE this time.


If you’ve read the first part of my weight loss tips (if you haven’t, read it here and I strongly urge you to read it first), I’ve mentioned that weight loss is 80% diet, and 20% exercise. Now, some may say “Oh okay, since I hate exercise, I’ll just go on a diet to lose the weight!” Makes sense, since exercise is just 20% of the formula, right? Meaning if we focus on dieting only, there’s 80% probability that we’re going to lose weight effectively, right? NOPE. NOT AT ALL. Not unless you just want to keep the weight off temporarily, in which to say that the sustainability factor has already been forfeited and really, that’s not what we’re aiming for.

I say this because I’ve witnessed several people go on diets (some drastic, some sensible), and while some of them may have kept the weight off for an extended period of time, others just gained all the weight back. Plus, I won’t even look any further—I remember trying the South Beach Diet before AND going all veg, no rice and all seafood in high school, and I lost about 20lbs. in 2 months. But I didn’t have any exercise, so in about 4-6 months after that, I gained back all the weight I lost (also because I couldn’t sustain the diet, obviously). So moral of the story? Keep yourself active and don’t be a lazy ass.

I’m not going to go into detail about how exercise is healthy for you, strengthens your immune system, etc. I’m not going to underestimate your intelligence, readers—we’ve all been taught that exercise is good for us since we were in grade school, or maybe even earlier since we’ve all been forced to take up a sport at some point in our childhood. What I’m here to tell you is, well, I assume that you’re reading this blog post because you have a genuine interest in becoming fit (or you’re just bored, but nonetheless, I’ll take it as a sign of interest else you won’t read up until this point, yeah?). Now because you’re genuinely interested, I’m just going to tell you: YES, you need to exercise. NO, there’s no going around it, BECAUSE HOW ELSE WILL YOU BURN THAT EXCESS FAT IN YOUR SYSTEM? You can go on a calorie deficit, but you can only go so low, really. And you want to lose that fat in time for summer, right? For the females out there, you want to get into that two-piece without looking like a bleached whale, right? YEAH, SO GO EXERCISE. J

Now that I’ve gotten my point across that you ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY, NEED TO EXERCISE, here are some tips/opinions/facts (or so I claim) that will help you get started:

1.)    You DON’T need a gym membership to be able to exercise. Oftentimes, I hear people say, “Oh, I wish I can lose weight and exercise—but I don’t have a gym membership since it’s too expensive.” Uhm, newsflash: YOU DON’T NEED A GYM TO EXERCISE! What, did you leave your body in the gym that you can’t do anything with it anywhere else? You’re trying to lose weight precisely because that’s definitely not where it’s been lately! But, let me tell you, I am sympathetic towards those who think a gym membership is a hefty price to pay. As an individual who is also part of the labor force, I myself think it’s a burden for me to pay for my plyo sessions every month—and that’s already coming from someone who lives with her mother (on a side note, my parents sponsor my gym membership and also my personal training sessions—I know, I love my parents). Because of that, here are my suggestions:
·      Run in your village or in a communal area, like a park. Self-explanatory, and there’s always a place for you to run on (hello, roads aren’t just for driving!).
·      Use common items at home as weights. Furniture, books—whatever cheverrr you can find, you can use as long as they provide sufficient resistance to make you sweat. Though for beginners, I suggest using your own body weight first.
·      Watch YouTube Zumba videos and/or download exercise videos. When I was in Shanghai for my Masters, I found that the gym in my condo was too small and the treadmills were always occupied. Because of this, I decided to borrow my friend’s hard drive and get the whole Insanity series, which I watched and did almost everyday in my living room. Suffice to say, I lost more than 10lbs. with it (though there are other series I’ve tried too, which I shall write more about in the future). So yes, you can still lose weight if you follow exercise videos thoroughly. Plus, you’ll be surprised—exercise videos these days are actually quite fun and not archaeic at all, as compared to the usual image we have in our heads wherein some guy in spandex teaches you aerobics with old people in the background. 
·      Buy workout videogames if you have a game console. From what I know, there are zumba/tennis/boxing/*insert sport here* games made for mostly all types of consoles, so if you’re a gamer, grab one of these and do it once you’re tired of playing Skyrim or GTA.
·      Download fitness apps on your smartphone. Again, I’ll be making a post on this, but I do suggest the Nike Training Club app which works wonders for a quick workout at home.

So, did I solve your problem for you already? Exercise doesn’t have to be expensive, because really, all you need is your body to move and sweat.

Now, in relation to Tip #1 is one that I firmly believe in, which is

2.)     It’s not about having time to exercise—it’s about MAKING time. 30 minutes to 1 hour of exercise is 2-4% of your day. If you don’t have time to allocate to exercise, then you shouldn’t have the time to go drinking with friends or lounging around the house doing nothing. Because really, it’s all about priorities, and if you want to lose weight, YOU HAVE TO INCLUDE FITNESS IN YOUR TOP 5 PRIORITIES. But then again, there are always unforeseen circumstances we can’t avoid which will hinder us from doing any physical activity (e.g exam week), so in such instances, I suggest you chill out and just go back to exercising once the chaos is over. But really, you have to exercise again after being busy, no excuses. As a friend of mine would constantly tell me, “one step backward, two steps forward”—you’ve got to get yourself together and get back on the grind. NO EXCUSES.

3.)    Lifting weights CAN help in burning fat when coupled with cardio—and no, it won’t make women go big. Coming from someone who can do 5 hours of cardio in a day, it’s very difficult to get rid of the “(sole) cardio burns more calories” mentality. That, along with the fear that I’ll become super muscular like a guy, are the main reasons why I’ve never done much weight training in the first place. But as I’ve learned from reading fitness articles (and from countless debates with my boyfriend), weight training burns fat especially when coupled with cardio in between weights sets, and it enhances your metabolism as well, so you burn more calories throughout the day. Plus, women aren’t as genetically capable of developing huge muscles like guys are, and muscle takes a quite a long time to build, so bulking up should be the least of a woman’s concerns when lifting weights. (That’s why I myself have resolved to lift more this 2014, and I’ve even gotten myself a personal trainer already hihihi!)

4.)    Add variations to your exercise. At some point in one’s weight loss journey, he will surely encounter what is called as the dreaded “plateau.” I experienced it on October 2012 after going down to 158lbs. from 205lbs. in just 3 months, as I achieved the weight loss by doing the same cardio exercises (with modifications only on the intensity of these exercises). There will come a time that our bodies will get used to the types of workouts that we do regardless of the intensity, and when that happens, we won’t burn as much calories as we used to. This eventually leads to the stagnation of our weight, which is something that we clearly all want to avoid. Thus, changing your cardio and your lifting routine every day and every week will greatly help in avoiding the plateau so that you keep your body guessing and it is continuously challenged every workout session.

5.)    Those high-rep challenges aren’t going to make you lose weight, nor will doing  823908200 squats in one sitting give you a nice butt. I’ve been seeing a lot of those high-rep squat/planks/crunches challenges on Instagram, and frankly, I’ve never even thought of doing any of those. Besides my sheer laziness and desire to economize my time (read: do more cardio instead of waste part of my day doing only one type of strengthening exercise), I know for a fact that such exercise challenges only lead to muscular imbalance and increase the likelihood of injury. Plus, I would really like to see how people can improve their plank after doing 1-5 minutes of it (Do you really think you can get defined abs by doing a plank for, say, 10 minutes? Please try it out and update me afterwards). Instead of doing these high-rep exercises, it would be better to do other modifications on them instead like adding more weights, or search up on other, more challenging variations (e.g planking on an exercise ball).

6.)      Form is everything. Again, I don’t care if you’ve done 50 squats in one sitting but your knees go past your toes—you’re not working out the muscle group that you’re supposed to be targeting, and you’re only setting yourself up for a knee  injury. If you want to effectively lose weight, it’s better to do a certain exercise with as many reps as you can but, of course, with the right form (this includes posture, grip, and what have you). 

7.)    Sleep is good for you.  You might not know it, but you actually burn calories in your sleep. The exact amount of calories burnt in sleep varies from person to person, and some may even say that you only burn a few. According to Fitday.com, however, a normal person burns 0.42 calories per lb. in an hour of sleep, so the formula would be like this: Calories Burned in Sleep= 0.42 x Body Weight (in lbs.) x Number of Sleeping Hours. Two nights ago, I made myself my own guinea pig and lo and behold, I burnt 0.43 calories per lb. in an hour.

If you think about it, though, sleep is still at the lower end of the spectrum of calorie-burning activities. But it does aid in muscle recovery and development, which is undoubtedly necessary for anyone who wants to lose fat and gain more muscle (which is good!).

8.)    Don’t be afraid to listen to your body and take some rest. Okay, you have to
adequately judge whether you really need to rest or you’re just being lazy. I’m often guilty of overtraining, wherein I train twice a day or train even when I’m sick and the only way for me to stop going to the gym is for my mom to personally ban me from going (yes, this happened just a week ago). The reason why I overtrain is because I sometimes get very paranoid and I’m afraid that my supposed need for rest might just be a bout of laziness or what. But I’ve learned that it’s also important to listen to your body so your muscles get to recover, thus leading you to be in your top shape come the next training session. So folks, if you feel like your legs are all wobbly from your morning training session and you can’t hit the gym for a cardio session in the afternoon (which was me at the start of the day last Monday, after having done plyo in the morning lol), you most probably need some time off.


So there you have it, guys. Aside from nutrition, exercise is something I'm very fixated with, and because I love doing it everyday, it's very nice to share a thing or two about it to people who are actually curious about how to exercise properly and whatnot. 

Also, I've received some requests from people in relation to my previous post, and I would like to say that I have a couple of posts in mind lined up. I've started writing two more blog posts, and it would SUPER help me out if you guys could tell me which one you want me to post, or if you want me to post up anything else first. I'll conduct a poll on my blog's Facebook page, and I would appreciate if you guys like it, follow it, and give me your inputs. 

Cheers and thanks for reading! :)

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