Now that Chinese New Year is out of the way, are you ready to start getting fit?
The first thing we think of when wanting to lose weight is how much weight we wanna lose (usually a dramatic figure). After that we start eating diet cereals and drinking slimming shakes. Then, we get all psyched up to jog everyday or join a gym. By the end of the week, we're sick of it and since there's gonna be a big dinner this weekend, we'll start again next week. Maybe. Someday..
"Someday is not a day of the week! The best time to turn that clock around is now." - C25
If you want to get fit, the first thing to do is to stop procrastinating. No more tomorrow or next week or starting on your favorite date. Get started NOW! Getting started doesn't mean you have to go at full blast. We are creatures of habit and unfortunately, you can't get rid of a habit. You can only replace it with another habit and habit is slowly developed.
In this week's post, Jeremy shares Ten Basic Changes that you can make immediately to start getting fit. Under each point I will also share what are the changes that I've personally made to get me started.
"Your plan can start off quite simply by opting for the stairs instead of the elevator, fruit in place of chocolate, and active rather than sedentary activities" - C25
#1 Small steps : Have realistic, short-term goals that you are more likely to keep.
I had a 3-month plan with weekly goals which was to lose 0.5kg every week. When I didn’t hit my weekly targets, I got frustrated. Then again, were my goals practical? Now, rather than using my weight as the only indicator of my progress, I use clothes. My first goal was to fit into a pair of black shorts that I could barely button. I’ve managed to achieve that :)
The next goal is to fit into a denim mini-skirt.
#2 Share the responsibility: It’s often easier to commit to a healthy regime if you and a friend start it together.
In my case, I’ve had friends start but not really commit and it’s not my place to lecture if they don’t. If you have friends who have the same goals and commitment as you do, that’s great! But if you don’t, you’ll have to motivate yourself to stay committed. In time you’ll come across people who will encourage you and keep you going, as I have.
#3 Develop a plan: Log your progress so you can see yourself getting closer to your goals. Weighing yourself once a week, keeping a diet journal, the number of workouts etc.
Many people want to be fitter and eat healthier but very few would actually put that desire into action. This journey can be pretty lonely and sometimes it’s hard to have the people around you relate to what you’re going through. My way to overcome this is to keep a journal on my goals, progress, diet, and workout or just to vent. You could also join fitness forums to share your progress and seek advice from others.
#4 Exercise: Start slowly. Whether it be simply walking in the park, jogging or an aerobics class. Start with a couple of times a week and build from there. It gets easier as your body adapts to the exercise you’re putting it through.
Attempting to lose weight without exercise is miserable. I’ve been down that road before and yeah, I lost weight but I was hungry, grumpy, moody, lethargic, weak and flabby. Learn to appreciate what exercise can do for you. Small changes such as choosing to take the stairs instead of the lift or walking to the nearby store instead of driving will make a difference. We’ll talk more on exercise in later posts.
#5 Diet : Spread your daily intake into 5 small meals. Allowing your body to eat often at regular intervals speeds up your metabolism, increasing the ability to burn calories.
I love eating so if I get hungry or eat things that are not tasty, I become very grumpy. What I’ve started to do is make better food choices and be more mindful of what I put into my mouth. For instance, instead of fried chicken, I go for Tandoori chicken. Instead of snacking on sandwich biscuits, I snack on fruits. I’ve done a lot more with my diet since I began but I’ll leave that for another time.
#6 Get a good start: Start with a protein-rich breakfast. Eating breakfast stabilizes blood sugar levels. Protein will reduce hunger later in the day.
I’m not a big breakfast eater especially on weekdays because before work I’ll either be at the gym or spending far too much time putting on my makeup. If I exercise in the morning, I’ll have a banana 45 minutes before and when I’m at the office, I’ll have a cup of Milo with brown rice powder. If I do have time for breakfast, I love half-boiled eggs.
#7 Keep it fresh: Get used to eating fresh fruit and vegetables, and drink plenty of water throughout the day.
In our climate, fresh fruits are very easy to come by. Just downstairs my office, we have a truck that sells fresh cut fruits. My favorite is guava and mango. If I know I’ll be having a small lunch, I’ll eat a fruit before so that I’ll feel fuller. Sometimes I’d buy a guava for later as a mid-afternoon snack. Please have your fruit without the assam powder or kicap.
Drinking water sounds easy enough until I actually monitored myself drinking 2.5 liters (10 glasses) of water every day. Besides all the flushing and hydrating, drinking water keeps my mouth occupied from wanting to munch on something and makes me feel fuller.
#8 Reduce the fats: Avoid sugary or carbonated drinks. Reduce fatty foods as well as starchy carbs such as rice.
I’m currently avoiding fried foods, sugary drinks and cookies. I initially set out to do it for 2 weeks but it has been easier than I thought it would be that I’m continuing with it indefinitely. I’ll still have them once in awhile but only if it’s so good that it’s worth an extra half hour of exercise. For the record, I went through the entire Chinese New Year without eating cookies. No regrets whatsoever.
#9 No late night snacking: Your last meal should be mid evening. Avoid eating too late at night as the calories will store as fat in your body overnight.
Late night snacking I’ve managed to abolish but having dinner earlier is still a challenge. Nonetheless, I try my best to not eat anything at least 2 hours before sleep.
#10 Get enough sleep: The body needs 6-8 hours sleep each night. This will give your body the energy to perform your new exercise regime.
If I were to do any vigorous exercise the night before, I would skip working out the next day so that I can sleep in longer and have enough rest. Or if I know I want to work out in the morning, I’ll sleep earlier the night before. That way I don’t over exhaust myself and dread exercising because I’m sleepy or too tired.
I believe the Ten Basic Changes are very much achievable by anyone. When you're just starting out, the changes you make don't have to be major. It's more effective to make small changes and stick with them long enough that they come naturally to you. Rather than make dramatic changes only to give up on them after a week, falling back into old habits. When you've gotten into the rhythm of this new modified lifestyle, progressing to the next level is going to be a lot more bearable.
Starting NOW, your challenge is very simply to start the Ten Basic Changes.
If you have any questions for Jeremy regarding fitness or diet, please don't hesitate to ask them in the comment section below.