Treadmill vs. Stationary Running

I was asked a question today regarding the difference between running on a treadmill and stationary running (running in one spot without a machine) so I thought I’d clarify this point.

Running on a treadmill allows you to choose the speed at which you walk or run. You can take actual strides that simulate actual walking or running outdoors. It is physically easier than running outdoors as the ground is pulled beneath you and there is no wind resistance. Treadmills are usually padded and make the impact from running soft on your knees. (This is great if you are overweight or have knee problems)

If you don’t want to use the treadmill or run outside, it is very difficult to really “RUN” or “Walk.” You cannot “run” forward and stay in place..if so, it will end up being more like jumping up and down (like when you jump rope..I just tried it….) In this case, I recommend you just get a jumping rope instead. It can also give you a great work out.

If its running you want and not jump rope, I recommend either just running outdoors or on a treadmill. Running outdoor is physically more challenging, but you get the lovely scenery and fresh air. On the treadmill, you can control the speed and the time. You also don’t have to worry about the route or bumping into people and getting hit by cars. For me, as Bangkok is so hot I just opt for the treadmill. It also gives me less incentive to stop and walk. Outdoors I end up walking whenever I see people walking or at an intersection..its all too tempting! Happy running! πŸ˜€

Many Small Meals or Fewer Big Meals?

There are so many theories on how to lose weight. I’ve heard a lot of people say we should have 5 or 6 small meals per day instead of just the 3 large meals. Both ways can help us lose weight. Which one is good for you? There is no right or wrong answer, but you have to figure out what works best for you. I had my 3 big meals during my weight loss plan.

As losing weight is basically burning more calories than the calories you consume, the number of meals doesn’t really matter. What matters most is the number of calories you eat. Having small meals may be more effective for some as eating frequently can help prevent you from getting hungry between large meals. What it does is basically divide the meals into smaller portions throughout the day to keep you constantly full.

Eating 3 large meals a day will have the same weight loss effect if you control your portions well and watch your calories. Give yourself room to snack mid morning or mid afternoon, but make sure that the snacks are not adding unnecessary calories to your diet. I usually snacked on fruits such as apples, guava, bananas or pears. Apples have very few calories and kept me full since they are high in fiber. One Golden Delicious has 82 calories. 0% fat yogurt is also a good snack with only 80 calories. Soy milk also helped. The low fat soy milk I bought had around 100 calories per portion. 0% cow milk is also a good snack. One cup will keep you quite full.

I used the following link to check how much calories I was consuming So whether its 6 small meals per day or 3 large meals… just watch the calories! Try and see what works best for you!

A Sense of Fashion

You might wonder “What does a post about fashion have to do with weight loss?” Well, the topic popped up as I pondered the benefits of weight loss. We all know weight loss improves one’s good health, lowers the possibility of heart disease..blah blah blah… we know the benefits all too well, but WHAT DO I REALLY ENJOY MOST?

I know I’ve given a great gift to myself by looking after my health, but the truth of the matter is: I enjoy most being able to wear almost anything I want to.

I like the feeling of walking into a clothing store, seeing a nice blouse, dress or pants that hit my fancy and then being able to try it on.

I like asking for a size that the shops have and not having to squeeze myself into clothes that are too small for me.

I like not having to come out of the fitting room, and realize that the nice dress didn’t look good on me because of my size.

I like not having to worry about finding clothes that will hide that “big thigh” or the “flab” around my tummy.

I like wearing pants that can be low rise, instead of always having to look for waist high pants.

I like wearing shorts and skirts shorter than my knees.

I like trying on sleeveless shirts and cardigans that don’t emphasize the size of my arms.

I like to wear pencil skirts rather than A-line or pleated skirts that hide my thighs.

I like to dress up.

I used to tell myself and others around me, that losing weight wasn’t that big a deal for me because I dress “conservative.” I didn’t need to follow the fashion because it was just a trend. I dressed “classic.” However, my classic was almost always shirts with either black pants or black skirts. Black because they slimmed down my thighs. The skirts had to be either A-line or pleated. Horizontal lines were forbidden because they emphasized my size.

So many conditions. I didn’t like shopping for clothes. I shopped shoes and bags.

Now, I can shop anything I want and wear anything I want. This is what I enjoy most about being slim. Having a good health is important, VERY important, but I must admit I enjoy being able to dress a bit more fashionably. Which girl doesn’t??

Walk into a clothing store and imagine yourself wearing that dress you like. Imagine yourself having reached your weight loss goal. Think of all the possibilities out there! If you dare, imagine yourself in a bikini. πŸ˜€

Cause or Effect ?

Today I went golfing (actually went to take photos in a golf cart) and an interesting thought flashed across my mind as I watch the many types of golfers out there on the green. Most people chose to walk the 18 hole course while some chose to rent the cart. I noticed that those renting the carts were usually “bigger” in size and overweight which made me wonder…did they decide to rent carts because they found the walk tiring (which it is in the hot sun!) or was it because they weren’t very active people to begin with that caused them to gain weight easily. What came first? An inactive lifestyle or the big size that became an obstacle to becoming active?

Looking back on my own experience I think its a mixture of the two. I wasn’t a very active child and so gained weight easily. The more weight I gained, the more I didn’t feel like being very active because it was just too much trouble. I’d get tired easily and it felt easier to just sit around and not walk as much. As I did, I gained more weight. It becomes a vicious cycle.

Now that I know how much effort is required, how much hard work it is to lose weight, I find myself being much more active. I don’t want to get caught in the vicious cycle of weight gain. I walk to places nearby, take the skytrain, find reasons to move around. At work, if I’m going to a meeting 2 floors away, I’d just take the stairs versus the elevator. Before, I’d just wait for the elevator. (Taking the stairs is also environmentally friendly as we help conserve energy!)

I find that being active helps keep my metabolism running and my weight in check. A few calories burned here and there add up and are especially important if you are trying to lose weight. Every little calorie counts, whether its consumed or burned.. Don’t get obsessed though, just remind yourself that the more active you are, the easier losing weight becomes. πŸ™‚

Portion size?

I want to emphasize the importance of portion control because this is what caused me to gain so much weight. I have always eaten healthy foods, I watched what I ate, but I ate LARGE portions. As I ate healthy, I didn’t feel guilty eating. I therefore had portions that could perhaps be enough for 2 or even 3 people. No matter how healthy you eat, if you eat large portions, then its hard for you to lose any weight.

A good idea is to change the size of the serving dish in which you eat. A documentary on TV revealed a research they did on the effect of the serving dish size on our appetite. They had children eat a certain amount of cereal in a very large bowl that made the amount of food look very little. The children would almost certainly have a second bowl of cereal. The same set of children were later given the same amount of cereal in a much smaller bowl. The cereal was filled to the top. Children in this case didn’t ask for seconds and were reportedly “full.”

What does this tell us? There may be some psychological effect on our perception of “full” depending upon the size of the serving dish we eat from. Therefore, eating from a small bowl or plate will give you the perception that you are “full” faster. Also, I read somewhere that we don’t associate the color “blue” with food as it is unnatural, so if you ate from a small “blue” plate, you might end up eating very little! (I’ve never tried the “blue,” but I now use smaller plates and bowls and it helps.) Eat healthy and make sure your portion sizes aren’t too big πŸ˜€

Watch the calories

Friends have asked me before if counting the calories really work in weight loss. My reply is “YES.” For me it was a big factor in my weight loss. Keep in mind though that just limiting the amount of calories you eat without any exercise will only have some effects in the beginning, but for the weight loss to be sustainable and healthy, it has to be done together with exercise.

To be clear, limiting the amount of calories coupled with exercise is important to a sustainable weight loss. One without the other will not have as good a result. I watched a documentary recently on TV where they took roughly ten unfit people who wanted to change their lives and train for the Boston marathon. Over a period of six months, they trained the participants and had them run miles and miles until they were fit enough to run the Boston marathon (which takes roughly 5 hours!). An interesting fact though is that many of the participants didn’t lose weight throughout the training. The documentary attributes this to the fact that after running, participants continued to eat the same meals as before. Food was not controlled. Therefore, if you run like crazy, but continue to eat food with high calories, it will be very difficult for you to lose weight, even though you are more fit.

I started with switching my full fat milk to O% fat, my yogurt became O% fat, and I watched what kind of drinks I’d buy. The O% milk and yogurt had roughly 30% less calories than their full fat versions! A lot of the drinks available have quite a bit of calories…make sure to read the label! You may be drinking in more calories than you realize. Every little calorie counts and the labels are a great source of information. Weight loss is basically making sure you burn more calories than you consume. If its not worth it, don’t waste your calories on it!

A Funny Thing About Bone Structure

It's friday so I thought I'd share a story about bone structure that
always makes me smile πŸ™‚ Since I can remember I have always been
considered "big" for Thai standards but that was always attributed to
the fact that I grew up in europe and the US. People would tell me I
had a "big" bone structure and that I shouldn't worry about losing
weight even though I was overweight. Friends and family had reached
the conclusion that I was "big" because of my bone structure.

I thought so too. I didn't have that small waist or toned arms because
of my big bone structure. Those people born with small bone structures
were of course naturally small, something I wouldn't be.

Anyways, let me ask you a question.Can bone structure change in size after we have passed the age of puberty? Your immediate answer would be "Of course not!" Well apparently mine changed. 14 kgs lighter I am now getting comments on my "small" bone structure and slim body. πŸ™‚

Prior to my weight loss I had a "big" bone structure, but now that I've lost 14kgs my bone structure has miraculously become "small." πŸ™‚ Isn't that funny? I guess its all a matter of perspective. We often fool ourselves and hide from the truth that we are overweight with all sorts of funny reasons such as "I have big bone structure." πŸ™‚

Get the Right Shoes

A great benefit from running that I haven’t mentioned before is that your metabolism continues on burning calories for roughly an hour afterward!! Isn’t that wonderful?? Don’t eat right away as it will stop the calories from being burned. Use the time to shower and change before you start eating to make the most of your workout. Drink water though so you won’t be dehydrated.

Another very important element to running that most people overlook is to have the right Running SHOES! I used to just wear my old trainers that I’ve had for years but they weren’t running shoes and they didn’t cushion my feet very well. I was heavy, had a wide foot and weak ankle. I needed a shoe that fit me well and would cushion my feet against impact from running.

I got Asics as they are wide and stabilize my feet well. The gel bottom also help soften the impact from my running. They were expensive, actually the most expensive shoe I ever bought, but I love them and they are great for me when running. They gave me a totally new running experience. The old trainers would make my feet feel heavy and slow..My Asics had a shape that was conducive to running and made life easier. You may think its all my “head” but give it a try!

Everyone has different shaped feet so find the shoe that is right for you. Here’s a link to a great article by Runner’s World Magazine on how to find the right shoe for you.,7120,s6-240-319–7726-0,00.html#

Also, its important to find out what kind of arch you have. Do you have a high arch or are you flat footed? Take the wet test πŸ™‚

Invest in a new shoe for your health πŸ™‚ Don’t skimp on the only gear you need for Running! You will feel its worth it once you lose the weight you want to πŸ™‚

Get Physical and Run!

What type of exercise is best for weight-loss? Running.

Before, if I went to the gym (which I hardly did), I’d choose either the elliptical machine, bicycle or the cross trainer. I did them but my weight never went down. I stayed big and even got bigger at times. I saw the treadmill machine but always stayed away from it. Running seemed too much of a hassle. It would be a pain to run with my weight and after trying it once, I felt dizzy and didn’t want to ever do it again. I couldn’t even remember the last time I ran..I might have been 10 or 11 years old.

Anyways, it wasn’t until Alex explained to me the benefits of running did I opt to try it again. My metabolism had been slow from my lack of activity for years and I needed to boost my metabolism so that it would burn more calories. Running burned the most calories and revs up your metabolism, so why not just run if you have limited time at the gym? For example, if you have only 30 minutes at the gym, you might as well do the exercise that gives you the best results. Makes sense doesn’t it? Minimize your time at the gym and do the exercise that burns the most calories.

So I started to Run….actually, I started with just walking on the treadmill. I took it slow and did Interval Training. This is when you alternate between walking and running. This is to increase your metabolism.

I walked for 5 mins at a pace I found comfortable..(5km/hour). Then I increased the speed to 1 notch above my walking speed (6km/hour) and ran for 1 min. Walk for 1.5 or 2 mins then run again for 1 min. Keep alternating for a total of 20 mins.

In subsequent weeks it will get easier, so run a bit longer and alternate with 2-3 mins walking. Also try upping the speed, but don’t increase it too fast if your body isn’t ready. Make sure you can run comfortably before you decide to run faster. You don’t want to injure yourself.

If you feel dizzy after just walking in the first session or two…don’t run right away. Your heart might not yet be used to exercise. Keep walking until your heart gets a bit stronger then start running when you feel ready. Listen to your body.

I assure you that the first minute you run will feel like the longest minute of your life. I was out of breath, I got completely red in the face and my body just wanted me to stop after less than a minute of running. My brain kept shouting at me “stop torturing yourself and just walk!” With A LOT of mental effort I had yell back at my brain and tell it to “STOP being a LAZY bum. Push that lazy person aside and just RUN. No Excuses.

The lady on the treadmill next to me was approximately 60 years old and she could run 30 mins at 8km/hour without stopping. Why couldn’t a 30 year old do it? After months of pushing the lazy person aside, it is now easier and easier for me to run. I can now run around 30 mins non-stop. If I do interval training, I can go up to 10km/hour. Imagine, I used to feel like I’d die after running 1 minute at 6km/hour. It feels good to have a stronger heart that can pump more blood easily and a lung that can expand more. Run for your heart and lungs! πŸ˜€

Patience is a Virtue

I got a lovely message from an old friend today who said that she was losing weight as a lifestyle change, which I think is very important, and that it is a process that she has taken very slowly in order for it to be healthy. I completely agree with her on this point and want to emphasize that we have to be PATIENT with weight-loss if we want the results to be sustainable.

The National Institutes of Health recommend that a slow and steady diet should enable you to lose around 1/2lbs to 2lbs per week. In metric that is roughly 0.5 to 1kg a week. It took me roughly six months to lose 14kgs (31 lbs) so that averages just slightly more than 2kgs (4.4lbs) per month which is within the guideline. You could lose weight much faster through “Fad diets” but then you could also just easily gain it all back once you return to your normal eating habits.

Like my friend, I didn’t want to follow a “strict” diet of what you can and cannot eat. Healthy eating, coupled with a good mental attitude, and some exercise makes the experience much more FUN and ENJOYABLE. More importantly, throughout my diet, I never once felt hungry. I often hear people dieting complaining of hunger and that they are “starving” themselves. Please don’t… it only puts your body into “starvation” mode and decreases your metabolism, as your body tries to store food for future uses. On one episode of “The Biggest Loser,” which I love to watch, this point comes across when the trainers told the participants that they need to eat to “fuel” their body for weight loss. You need energy to burn when you workout, so EAT. (Just choose what you eat!)