Guest Writer: From Binge Eating to Olympic Distance Triathlon

Today’s post comes from one of Having ‘Me’ Time’s readers who is now having a healthy lifestyle and working towards an Olympic distance triathlon! Isn’t she inspirational?  She inspires me to keep up my healthy lifestyle and keep working at it! Thank you!

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I had struggled with my weight for the majority of my teenage years. I grew up relatively skinny, but started to gain weight during high school and college. It was right around this time that I was introduced to binge eating. Food became my main source of comfort when I was stressed out, bored, or lonely. My weight started to creep up on me, and it never really went back down. I didn’t like taking photos because I thought my face was too round. I wore baggy pants because I didn’t like the way my thighs look. I avoided wearing sleeveless shirts because I didn’t want to expose my flappy arms. And the list went on.

I had tried restricting calories, but once my stress level passed a certain threshold I would grab anything that was in front of me and ate it like there was no tomorrow. I would hate myself the next day, which resulting in over-exercising the next day to compensate the calories I over-consumed the night before.

After many failed attempts of losing weight through restricting diets, binge eating, and hating myself, I told myself that something had to change. I decided that I would focus on completing a race instead of purely losing pounds. A sprint triathlon came into mind because I have always enjoyed biking and swimming, and even though I never really liked running all that much I knew I could run a 5K. I looked into the distances that constitute a sprint triathlon: 600m swimming, 20K biking, and 5K running. I knew it was totally possible if I really put my mind to it. I found a race that was 3 months away and started training.

I did not know how much 3 months of training could have changed my perspective about my body. The race started of as a way for me to lose weight, but it did so much more than that. I have not reached my goal weight yet, but I am a lot more comfortable with the way I look. I view my body as the main vehicle to get me to my fitness goal. I can proudly say that I am physically and mentally stronger. There were days that I really did not want to get up and train, and was too tired after work to do any exercise, but I did it anyway. I knew that if I didn’t put in the necessary work each day, I would not be able to reach the goal I set for myself. I know I would not be ready by the race day. Every workout counted as a small step towards a bigger goal.

Through this experience of training for a triathlon, I learn that life is about setting goals and achieving them. My goal, however, has shifted from purely losing weight to becoming a triathlete and accepting my body every single day. My next goal is to finish a half marathon in April and an olympic distance triathlon in May. I am in the middle of my journey, and I cannot wait to see where it will take me.

 

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Don’t Think, Just Run

I feel like I’ve somewhat passed a strenuous physical exam after recovering from a super strong strain of flu that had my brain dizzy, muscles sore and made me just collapse into a sleeping beauty every night.  My immune system is now super charged and ready to take on what come.  Now it’s time to get ready for the Bangkok Marathon in November.  This week, I’ve started doing extra long runs at the gym. (Not really that long for a professional runner, but long for me)

I usually run two sets of ten minutes in the mornings, but that is really not far at all.  It takes me only roughly a little over a kilometer.  To make 5km, I’m going to have to keep running and running and running. Running for around 40 minutes non-stop.

To do that, this week I’ve been doing running stretches of 20 minutes.  Knowing that my brain would want to give up after ten minutes, I eased myself into running 20 minutes by lowering the speed slightly, but keeping the incline at 1% (so that the treadmill will resemble the outdoor a bit more).

I also had to stop thinking.  Yes, don’t think when you run.

If I think, I always end up stopping.  So I had to keep telling my brain to just ignore the thought process for awhile and kill off the voices from the lazy me inside.  Every five minutes, my lazy me would go through the cycle of trying to talk itself into stopping.

“Five minutes is a nice round number, yes let’s stop here for a bit.”  At this point, my lazy me is smiling and making the stop seem so pleasant.

“No, I’d reply.  Another five minutes then we can stop”  Yes, I trick myself every five minutes to run another five minutes. (I say I’d stop, but actually I won’t, because I’d trick myself again later.)

This self tricking involves not looking at the timer on the treadmill when the seconds count down from 4.56 mins to 4.57mins  to 4.58mins then 4.59mins.  My heart gives a big thump.  I must not give in, no I won’t and so I ignore this awful timer and instead try to look around the room at the other people running and exercising. I look out the window, watch the flickering TV screen and note to myself that the grandpa on the other treadmill seems fitter than me.  By the time I look again it becomes 5.10mins and then I say to myself,

“Haha!! you passed the round number, might as well run to the next round number. You know you are going to feel like a better person for having finished the entire run than giving up on yourself halfway.”

When I finish the run, it is indeed a feeling of accomplishment.  Even though how little the accomplishment, I think it’s a great way to start the day.  You won over yourself and ran a full 20 minutes. You killed the lazy voices, put them in coma.  Next week it’s going to have to start being 25 minute runs.

Yes, lets all stop thinking and just run!  RUN for your health, run for yourself, run for a new life.

Get Ready for the 2011 Bangkok Marathon

This morning while running, I thought about the upcoming Bangkok Marathon.  I have to get a little more serious in my running.  In 53 days, the Bangkok Marathon will be held as it has been for the past few years.  On November 20, 2011 tens of thousands of people will be out running in the wee mornings of the day.  I will be there.  Let’s all be there.  Let’s go out, have some exercise and enjoy the experience.

For those of you who have never joined the marathon, let me tell you this.  Once you’ve experienced it, you will want to keep coming back.  It’s fun, it’s exciting and its open the everyone.  How often do you get to run on the street by the Grand Palace and watch the sunrise?

You don’t have to run the entire 42km marathon.  They have the 10K as well as the 5K for you to choose from.  I will be doing the 5K.  I want to run it all and not walk.

The first time I joined the marathon was 4 years ago, I was unfit, overweight and yes, I let many MANY people pass me by.  One of my most memorable moments was when I was huffling and puffling, red faced and short of breath. Then I looked towards my left and spotted a lady pushing another lady who was sitting on a wheelchair pass me by.  They both looked happy and not in the least bit tired.   That was a “down” moment.  I was overtaken by a lady pushing a wheelchair.   Imagine that.

The second time I joined, I had lost 15K and was running with Alex. I have to tell you the experience was a lot better.  I ran almost halfway before I took a walking break and yes, I finished it all in around 40 minutes which is not too bad for me.  I wasn’t huffling and puffing as much and my heart felt a lot stronger.  It was fun, I met friends, took photos and had a blast of a time.

This year will be third year, and I think I will finish the 5K with an even better timing than the last.  Of course, one must always aim for improvements.

So mark your calendars everyone.  November 20,2011.  Let’s all join the Bangkok Marathon.  Let’s have some “me” time and exercise!

Fear not that you won’t make it.  As a friend said the other day, “Once you start, you’ve gotta finish it.” I totally agree. No matter how long it takes, you will finish it.  Start little, start short distances if you are unsure.  5K is really not much at all. 🙂

Oh, here’s their website!  http://www.bkkmarathon.com/eng/index.php

5K Cancer Care Charity Fun Run

If you are a member of my facebook page, you probably already saw some photos I’ve posted from this morning’s Cancer Care Charity Fun Run.  This is my second time running the 5K and the first time I did it alone without Alex motivating me on.  I have to say it wasn’t easy considering I was having stomach cramps, but then running is all a mind game.  Once you get in it, you just have to try and win over.

The mind game for me started the minute I woke up.  I wasn’t feeling very well and my lazy me kept telling me to just sleep in and forgo it.  So many reasons popped into my head in a matter of minutes.  Luckily, the past year and a half the lazy me’s voice has been growing quieter and quieter as it had been losing its battles to the active me.

“Active” me jumped into attack the “lazy” me and it told me to just get my lazy bum off my bed, get ready and get to the park.  It told me that when I was there, if I was still truly feeling ill, then I can just do a very slow jog or walk. (This was the active me’s way of getting me to the run, fully knowing that once I was there I would have to run.)  I had to go.  I could not just give in and let the “lazy” me win over after all this hard work.

And so I got myself into the car and got to the park.  As the “active” me had already known, seeing all the people, the bustle and hustle of the Cancer care charity run made me forget everything else and just want to join in the fun.

The run started, I was amidst the crowd and then the adrenaline sets in.   I see people running and I want to run.  There are hundreds of people. I’m number 130.  I start slowly, moving in and out of crowds, it feels like I’m playing a game.  There are people of all different ages and races.  There are families, there are children with their parents, there are brothers, sisters, there are couples, there are friends, there are colleagues and there are real active runners that just zoom past you like they had a turbo engine attached to them.

Lazy me comes back again like a broken record that keeps replaying certain parts.  Lazy me wants to walk and just enjoy the nice cool breeze and the green green trees that line one of the few parks in Bangkok.  It’s been a long time since I’ve been there. 

Active me pushes the thought aside and I remember Alex’s trick to keep me running. The trick is to keep looking around and enjoy the scenery.  I start noticing the water in the ponds, the old men that come out to sit and enjoy the park, the senior ladies who come out for a walk, the Chinese style pagoda and the children’s playground.  Its a beautiful park especially in the morning light.  I wonder why I don’t come here more often.

I then think of another’s colleague advice on putting her mind elsewhere.  Focus it on other parts of the body.  I move it from my head to my fingers, to my phone and then somehow it goes to my feet.  It starts getting fun to change my pace and then alternate the way my feet hits the ground.  For awhile, its fun and I feel I could go on for awhile.

I did, however, cave into lazy me and walk partly.  However, for fear of walking too long, I’d just give myself a few landmarks ahead and once I get to it, I tell myself I have to run.  Sometimes I use people as landmarks, sometimes its trees, or its some benches.  It works.  It stops me from taking too long a break.

My run takes a total of roughly 40 minutes and I can tell you nothing feels better than running through the finish line.  I did it.  I ran (with some walking) 5K.   Its still not my favorite activity in the world, but its getting easier. It certainly felt easier than my last 5K run in November.  And with time it should get easier and easier!  One day I’ll do the 10K. Yes, I will.

What happens to your mind when you run?  What tricks do you use to keep yourself running?  Please share any tips or advices.  Thank you!

My 5K Bangkok Marathon

An event I had been looking forward to with much anticipation finally arrived today: The Bangkok Marathon.  The last time I ran (well walked most of it) was two years ago when I was still very chubby and very unfit.  This year, I registered for the 5K and being fitter I wanted to see how I would do. I wanted to see how actually running most of the 5K would turn out to be like.  It was also a fun event that Alex and I could both do together.

The day started out early.  The 5K runners or what they call “micro-marathon” were to start running at 6.20am and due to the massive amount of people, I wanted to get there early.  Roads had been blocked around the beautiful historic area of Bangkok since early morning when the marathoners started out on their 4 hour long run.  Maybe one day I’ll be crazy enough to do it, but for now I am happy with 5K. 

There is a certain feeling of anticipation and unexplicable fun that comes with participating in such a big event.  Driving out towards my destination before the sunrise, when most of the people were still dreaming away in their cosy beds,  I spotted fellow runners in their cars.  You can tell by the shirt they’re wearing and the numbers they have pinned to their shirt.  Then I drive pass roads that had been sectioned off for the runners.  Unexpectedly, I spot a very fit marathoner bicyling to the event in full gear, and another jogging off track, perhaps having a long warm-up.  It makes me feel wonderful to think that so many people can be up early for such a healthy cause.

Upon reaching the starting line, there were massive amounts of people. Everywhere I looked there were people.  People of all ages, all nationalities and all fitness levels.  There were even dogs dressed up for the run and some even had their own number! I love the owner’s sense of fun.  Everyone wanted to be there and most importantly, everyone was happy.  A stage by the starting line was filled with dancers and music.  It was entertaining and fun.  People danced along to the beat, some took photos and some just stood there smiling. The cool morning air was alive with energy. The beautiful backdrop of the Grand Palace shone out in all it’s glory.

Nearing the starting time, you could feel the level of energy increase.  Everyone was waiting for the countdown and that unique blast of the horn that would send tens of thousands of people out onto the roads. Tens of thousands of people running.  I was number 41300 of the 5K.  I think there must have been a hundred thousand people at this event.  The rush of energy that accompanied the horn was incredibly fun.  All of a sudden everyone around you was running and jogging.

I decided I would run slow and keep my pace. I wanted to run for as long as I could before starting to walk. Now in all my running sessions at the fitness, I had never reached 4k, let alone 5K.  This was going to be interesting.  I ran very slow, but the most important thing was to keep the pace going and not walk.  If you stayed constant and steady, you’d be fine.

As I ran, several thoughts kept going through my mind. Of course the lazy me, comes up instantly and starts asking me why I had to subject myself to such a ridiculous amount of running. I ignore it and push on.  Then the complaining me pops into my head and asks me why the course was so long.  I had to run from the Grand Palace to the Democracy Monument, to the United Nations and then back again.  Again I push it out.  Then the stomach aches and the feet aches start coming up.  Oh no, my body wants to stop.  Luckily Alex is besides me and he looks like this run is just a warm up.  For him, this is easy.  He’s looking around and enjoying the view of Historic Bangkok while I’m panting like a panda. He tells me to look at the cute Siberian Husky and the pair of Pugs.  I grunt along.  He pushes me along and I manage to somehow continue on with the run.

I run out of breath at around 2K and need to have a little walk before continuing on.  I’m told I’m not breathing correctly and I run like I’m tiptoeing.  No wonder I tire easily and make loud noises on the treadmill.  I try to adapt the way I run and it gets better but there is much to be improved.

I push along the last leg of the run and finally reach the finish line 40 minutes after I set out.  I’m happy.  Actually, I’m very happy I did manage to Run/Walk the 5K.  It felt extremely tiring during the run, but now it’s done, I wish I could do it again.  There was actually a part where I enjoyed the running, jumping left and right around people, some trees and some people taking pictures.  If only, I could make that part sustainable.

What I liked most about the Marathon though was looking at the faces of everyone around you.  You could see smiles of happiness and satisfaction.  This run made people feel good.  There were families out there running with young kids and some probably in their sixties. There were wheelchair participants, being pushed along.  Everyone here was running because they wanted to.  It was an event open to all.   It was good for your health, both body and mind.

I have to say that its definitely an event to be remembered.  Sometimes we need events like these to remind us how good life is. Happiness can be had from the simplest things.  Simple things such as running.  All you need is pair of running shoes, some socks, and an open mind. 🙂 Happy Running!

Let’s Join the 5K Bangkok Marathon


With all my rantngs on good eats around Bangkok and around Malaysia, I assure you I have not given up on running. I still do go running at least twice a week even after I hurt my back and had to give myself a one week break. It has been hard to regain the momentum I had when I was on my diet after a week off, and a lazy week after, but it is important not to give up and stop running if you want to maintain that health you worked so hard for.

I am planning to run the 5K at the Bangkok Marathon which is held annually every year in November and its about time I started training seriously. If you are reading this, I hope you will join me this year. It’s on November 21st, 2010. (http://www.bkkmarathon.com/)

The last time I did the 5K (which by-the-way is considered Micro-marathon, Walk and Fun Run which means they don’t even consider it a “real” run) was in 2007 when I was totally unfit and unprepared. My good friend invited me to join and I thought “why not?” I’m really happy she did bring me along, or rather I tagged along, because it was a wonderful experience. Waking up early before the sun rise and running along with the beautiful royal palace as a backdrop… Gorgeous. I even still have the finisher medal.

Going totally untrained and unfit is not recommended. I remember being overtaken by people running along while pushing a wheelchair (since 5K is so EASY, its a “fun” run), and overtaken by people who were significantly older than me. Being at the end of the crowd, your heart kind of just drops when you see a large crowd of people running along happily in front of you.

Anyhow, I am going to seriously start training and if you are interested, try this 5K to couch program that helps you prepare for the 5K run. (http://www.coolrunning.com/engine/2/2_3/181.shtml)

I’m somewhere around week 6, so what I have to do from now on is to push myself to run for longer periods non-stop. Remember, running outdoors is harder than running on the treadmill, and its all the mind! 🙂 Oh, and if you want to do the 10K Mini-marthon or the full marathon please go ahead!! I’m happy with the 5K for now 🙂 See you soon!