How I lost 10kg and fell in love with working out!
We have all been there - making a new year resolution hoping to stay fit and eat healthily for the rest of the year. I admit, sticking by the wellness regime is pretty hard. Especially in tight situations like attending endless meetings, keeping with deadlines or other commitments. Time like this makes scheduling a workout or a quick gym-sesh the last thing on your mind. This was my exact NYR every year until I turned 18.
Trust me, I've been on a perpetual diet since young. I've tried all kinds of diets; no carbs, no dinner, paleo, intermittent fasting, vegetarian diet and even juice cleanses. Growing up and being overweight from young made me self-conscious about my weight. With my slow metabolism, I put on weight quickly and store fat easily. Just a little backstory, my lifestyle back then was sedentary. From young, I never played sports, hated running and all sort of physical activities. I decided to take control and made a conscious lifestyle change for the body I want. This 4 year long journey lost me 10kg, through a combination of healthy eating and daily workouts. I get it -- working out may seem like the most painful idea ever. The fact is, from my personal experience, the first step is to change your mindset. I removed the idea and any thought of bore and negativity that I used to associate working out with. Instead, I psyched myself up prior to my long runs, listened to hip-hop (my favourite workout genre), and used it as a tool to work on my self-discipline. Running is painful, it really is. The burn, the mental battle with yourself to finish the run, the panting etc. I've always told my friends that if you can put yourself up to run 5km weekly through that "pain", you can get through anything and everything if you put your mind to it. I started with 5km runs three times a week for a year. I moved on to include mat workouts on alternate days. That weekly routine bore me after three years. It became static and I started to dread the exercises again. This is the moment where it is crucial to change the exercises. I swopped out my runs for hot yoga classes and did other workouts like HIIT, Tabata and Pilates. With a variety of workouts, I started to enjoy working out. Those thrice a week workouts became 4, then 5, and then 7. And slowly, as I saw how my body responded to the exercises, I realized that the fastest way for someone like myself that had a high percentage of baby fat is to do daily intense cardio sessions, effectively. What do I mean by that? It means, Working Hard, Working Smart. A 30 minute run burns an average of 230kcal for me compared to a 30 minute of HIIT cardio workout that burns up 500kcal for me. I saw instant results and stopped running. One advice that i've shared over the years, especially for friends that are making lifestyle changes is to find out what type of workout suits you best. For an example, if you grew up playing sports and had great memories (competitions, great teammates etc), you would enjoy working out now as an adult in a group setting. For people like that, exercises that suits you best include Group Sports (Badminton, Tennis, Football etc), having friends attend classes with you, gym buddies, working out in big groups. *Also works best for extroverts*. I personally enjoy working out alone. Being an introvert and from the nature of my career, it's the only time where I have an hour of quietness, minimal distractions, and my own "me time". Exercises that I really enjoy include boxing, intensive HIIT classes, running and weight training. Also, it is crucial to always challenge yourself as you get used to the classes and workout regime. The last thing that you would want is to get bored of exercising.
No doubt, there are huge advantages of working out that the media often talk about. However, my personal biggest takeaway is that it builds discipline, mental strength, grit and relieves stress while keeping your heart healthy and bum perky!
You don't have to go all out, either. Remember, it is a marathon, not a sprint. It's a permanent change that takes time, patience and dedication. I have so many friends that decided on a lifestyle change (from 0 workouts in years to 4 workouts a week) find themselves stopping after 2 weeks because it became too exhausting and troublesome. When there is no mindset change, there will be no lifestyle change. On average, it takes 2 months to form a habit. Now, 4 years into my journey, I am now happily working out 7 days a week! It no longer is about diets or looking good. Instead, it's a daily wellness booster just before I begin my day.
If you're afraid of commitment too, that is perfectly OKAY too. It's common to hear of stories where people pay hundreds of dollars at yoga studios, gyms, class packages etc only to find themselves giving up after 5 sessions. Most boutique gyms offer trial sessions for their clients. Take the opportunity to understand what your body trying to tell you. With a wide range of training styles and limited time available, you should weigh in what's works best for you!
Some gyms I recommend and have been going for the past few years!
1. Yoga Movement
If you're tired of the mainstream HIIT (High-intensity interval training) in the gym, switch it up with some hot yoga! Though it gets really warm and challenging, it can also be pretty rewarding to burn 400 calories easily in just one session. Be sure to pick good instructors as they affect the intensity of the class.
Duration: 45 minutes | Location: Various Studios | Website
2. F45 Training
Started in Australia, F45 consists of 3 training styles (HIIT, Circuit training and Functional training) has recently hit our shore. The functional fitness rolls out new training systems and exercises every three months, so no workout is the same. I am always in for a surprise, and I know I'll be challenging both my mind and my body.
Duration: 45 minutes | Location: Various Studios across Singapore | Website
If exercising alone is not your thing, try working out with a fit squad. When you workout with a friend, you tend to push yourself off your comfort zone, while having fun! With a unique combination of ballet, yoga and HIIT, the full body workout suitable for any level of fitness. Concentrating on toning and leaning the body, I would say that this fitness regime is less intense compared to the rest.
Duration: 40 minutes to 1-hour | Location: Various Studios across Singapore | Website
4. Still Boxing
This burnout session is not only a test of stamina and strength but also coordination; it involves 12 rounds of complex boxing combination with high-intensity body weight and kettlebell moves.
Did you know that music has the potential to increase beta brain waves, but it will also create a positive vibe and mood? With the energetic music played in the background, it will keep you ready for your next move. For anyone trying out boxing concepts, this is really the best in my personal opinion. The instructors are professional boxers (Leona and Jiawei) that help to correct your techniques while including a boxer's workout practices.
Duration: 50 minutes | Location: OUE Downtown | Website
Don't belittle this short drill; the perks of a 30 minutes intense workout will easily last for several hours. Like they say, it is the quality that matters. The workout sessions happens every half an hour with three different levels of intensity. An exceptional detail that I prefer is that they provide workout gear, towels and toiletries that is great for a last minute workout.
Duration: 30 minutes | Location: Various Studios across Singapore | Website