The Up (Weight) and Down (Weight) Cycle

If you’ve been through weightless and moved towards a healthier life, one of the questions is how do you sustain it? I don’t think there’s a simple answer to that question, and you have to find a model that fits you. For me, it’s been five years since I lost half of me and I am still working on it. I am still exercising and watching what I eat, but there are cycles that results in weight gain. The Up (Weight) and Down (Weight) Cycle.

The Up Cycle starts when there’s a lot of work, you’re tired, and you find reasons to work out less. When I was at my most healthy, I’d work out four to five days a week. After awhile, I grew comfortable with my health, and the workouts gradually decreased to three times then two times per week. No matter how much I ate, the weight barely moved on the scale. I was in a cycle of happiness. Sustained health (or so I thought.) I was good, I told myself. I could still run well. No problem.

Then age started playing a role coupled with my love of eating. Age, because I think my metabolism slowed down. It seems to slow down every five years and now that I’m nearing my forties, it seems to have moved a notch lower. I have to work out more to get the same gains.

My love of eating, over two months from Thanksgiving dinners, celebrations with friends, to New Years, trying out bread recipes, having pastries and eating it all, my weight went up. Of course, if you eat that much and still just work out two days a week it’s going to go up. Finally, my body caved and my weight went up 6 kgs (13 pounds) in a matter of one week. It’s like a technical barrier had been broken and you weren’t quite sure where it was going to stop. ‘Stop, stop’ I’d tell the weigh scale, but it didn’t listen.

The only way to stop it was to ‘reboot’ myself.

The Down (Weight) Cycle starts when I got back to running four times a week, getting to the gym earlier, working out a little bit longer, and even going on weekends. I started cooking, not just for dinners, but also for lunches. I brought my own lunches to work which consisted of various recipes with vegetables as the main dish coupled with some pork or chicken. It just required a bit more advanced planning, but you are assured a healthy meal. I cut out on my favourite baked goodies and processed foods. I have now lost 5kg (11 pounds) now and feel reenergised. I’ve still got a few more to lose but as the technical barrier broke on the way up, it breaks on the way down too.

So how do I sustain a healthy lifestyle? I realise now that for me I have to constantly remind myself, that no matter how much you have going on in your life, there’s never a reason to reduce the amount of exercise you do.  Do not cave into the ‘Lazy Me’ which comes in many forms.  She’s a tricky gal with a million reasons.

For me, I have to keep it up exercising three times per week and as I age, I find that I probably have to up the intensity as well. Also, make sure that your fridge is stocked full of veggies and good wholesome foods. Don’t fall into the trap of commercial food industry!  I make my own hummus now. 🙂

What works for you? How do you sustain it?

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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!

 *****

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.

 

Snowboarding: The days after

You realise how unfit and how old you are when after just one hour of snowboarding, you are still feeling the effects three days after.  It’s a great wake up call that we need to exercise all parts of our body to be truly fit; work other parts of the body. Running three to four days a week, you get spoiled into thinking that you are fit, when in reality only certain muscles get trained.

After an hour of snowboarding (indoors), I started feeling the effects a mere one hour after. My legs and lower back were tense. It’s as if I did an hour of squats. After lunch, I could barely get up and then I had to walk slowly. Very slowly. Grandma style slow. Turtle slow with duck like feet.

Looking back it’s not surprising. I had never properly trained my body and taking up running was the most ‘real’ exercise I’ve ever done.  This realisation comes at the perfect time. This New Years I will begin an exercise routine to build up my core strength. Do you snowboard? Do you have any recommended routines? Please share!

Happy holidays!

Running once more

This past week I have just gotten back into my running schedule after a month or so off running. Moving house and a sore ankle were my excuses. They really shouldn’t be. Exercise is of course better done regularly. I was reminded this week after running why it is so good. The more stressed one is the more one should exercise. Its a great stress reliever.

And I am stressed. There just seems to be a million billion things waiting to get done. Europe is in a crisis and who knows what will happen. I wonder if it will be the end of the EU as we know it or not? My European me ( from being educated in a European school with a curriculum that boasted the European ideal of an integrated Europe) , makes me sceptical.
Europe has been working for six decades towards integration. It can’t and shouldn’t end just yet. But who is to say, all good things must come to an end.

And yes, domestically we are having political brawls. Boys in suits.

So I run. Run it all off. Run off all the stress, all that annoys you and all that makes you feel not so good.

It feels great. Although I felt like my legs were killing me, my stomach cramped, my heart pounding on my ribs, and my lazy me rebelling; I wanted to run.

The sweat, the beating heart makes everything feel so much better. Happy chemicals filled my grey cells and I felt like a stone weighing me down had been lifted.

Cheeks blushed I remembered: Yes I have to keep up my running routine. Exercise is good for the soul. It not only makes you feel good but it clears your brain. Ideas and thoughts, all come running out. Next week I will run again, and the week after next and after….

Are you exercising?

Christmas Weight Tip: Ramp up your running

Since the flood prevented me from exercising regularly and now that it has gone, I find myself in the festive season with my weight going uphill.  I gained 3kgs last week (now 2kg down and 1kg left to go) which is the most I’ve ever gained in the last year or so.  It’s during festive times like these when our weight go up and up. (I mean it’s a time for meeting friends, hanging out and having fun.  What this means is a lot of eating, drinking and late nights.  A routine that is wonderfully suited to gaining weight. )  Fear not, with some exercising planning, you can keep your weight in control and get it back down before you find yourself unable to fit into the pretty dress you had ready for New Year’s Eve.

Of course, in between meals do not forget to also watch what you eat.  The more you eat the harder you have to work at burning it out.  Since I gained 3kgs, I had to find a way to get it down and fast it must before it reaches a new steady state.  When the weight is in a steady state (meaning at a level for a longer period of time), it becomes harder to burn it off (for me anyways).

What to do?  Add an extra day or two to your weekly exercise routine.  For example, if I used to run two times a week, I now run three.  If I feel like I’ve been eating like there were no tomorrow, then I will run four times a week.  The more I eat, the more I run.

If you can do it, running two days in a row will also just push that metabolism up and burn burn the fat away.

Don’t forget to give yourself an hour rest after the running before your next meal.  This lets your body burn fat for an extra hour after you run.

So yes, beat the Christmas weight gain and go run!  If you want to eat, then you gotta run! Good food makes running worthwhile. 🙂

Love Thyself

Many people think health comes along when you have another “half” another “soul” to be by your side. Some say “love” will make you lose weight, be healthy.  There is some truth to it, but I think that is somewhat oversimplified.  You do not need to have “someone” to get healthy.  The only reason you should get healthy and lose weight is because you dearly want to yourself.  Because you love yourself and you think that you are worthy of the attention.  Once you have found that love for yourself, then love for another comes more easily.

Health is a great cure for the soul. It rejunevates, energizes and gives you strength you previously didn’t know you had.  You can somehow run those few kilometers and walk up flights of stairs without feeling tired. Walks that were once unappealing, now seem like a little walk in the garden.  The hot weather becomes less annoying, and the chair more comfortable. Yes, even just sitting on chairs becomes a more enjoyable experience. One can now twist and turn around in the chair without feeling restricted by its side. (If you’ve been stranded in a small chair, you’d know how uncomfortable it can be)  It feels great to not have to worry nor be tired out by little daily tasks.

Shopping becomes a whole new experience.  Now the question is not whether A or B will fit me, but whether A or B will look better on me?  The choice is limitless.  I no longer have to settle for the shirt that fits, over the style I’d rather be wearing.  It’s a wonderful feeling.  A new found happiness.

To enjoy all these benefits I think are a few of the gifts of good health.  You don’t need any other “incentive” other than a love for yourself.  If you lost weight only when you were in love, and only for other people, does this mean that the rest of the time you will regain that weight and forever remain chubby ?  It’s a vicious cycle.  If even you do not love yourself, who then would love you? Since no one loves you, then you’d eat and gain weight?

So love yourself, love the wonderful person you are and take care of your health.  Have a good health everyone!  Who knows what could happen then? Lightning could strike.

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.