Archive for the ‘Motivation’ Category

No one is in the office... Guess I should just

Ooooooooooooh Yeah!

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I recently came across an article regarding Trans Fats and the FDA’s ‘War’ on it. I’m not sure if your familiar but as a review, last month the FDA (Food & Drug Administration of the USA) declared that companies are to begin reducing (to eventual elimination) trans fats in food. Now if you have been living under a rock or are generally unaware of why trans fats are bad, click the link above or at the bottom of the post for all the information.

At first I welcomed the news – heralded it as some healthy sanity in the FDA based on clear evidence about the health impact of trans fats. As soon as I learned about trans fats – I made a concerted effort to avoid them because I love my heart and I want it to treat me well when I’m older. Also as the medical claims go: This change could potentially prevent 7,000 deaths and 20,000 heart attacks a year, said FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg.

While I still stand by the FDA’s decision to phase out trans fats and say it’s a victory for the healthy consumer, it makes me sad that they had to go any further than the 2006 law enforcing that trans-fat content must be displayed. It speaks to an endemic issue within most western societies where we seem to feel that our health is everyone else’s problem. We see people blaming fast food for them being fat or the candy marketing targeting kids. But an intelligent “pro-active” population should not need the FDA to step in.

To break this down – in a capitalist society like most of ours (including my native Britain) your purchasing dollar, pound, euro, whatever is the power  behind a brand. The more it is purchased, the more encouraged a product is because in obvious supply and demand – if the public wants more, make more.

So here is my point, it makes me sad that Trans-Fat products are not naturally being phased out as a result of an educated public making an active decision to stop buying products containing trans-fats. It makes me sad that we see people looking to blame products and brands for weight gain when all of the information is there. If you have gained weight because you eat high-trans fat foods, accept responsibility and make a decision, don’t push the blame to companies who make whatever you keep buying.

When I gained weight in university, I didn’t say my university should have had a healthy eating plan, I said I should stop drinking beer, eating hula hoops and not exercising. Those who do not take responsibility for their own health will never make progress – period.

Article on Trans Fats: http://www.recallcenter.com/fda-declares-war-trans-fats/

One is helpful, the other an excuse. All the time (but in this instant I’m thinking of a couple of very specific people) people are coming out and saying “I’ve got to lose weight…” or “I’ve got to get more ripped…” or have some ambitious fitness goal. What do I say to that? Bloody good for you mate! But then the sentence continues “…so to keep me motivated, me and XXX are going to go together. You know, really keep each other in check”. What do I say to that? Well that could work, or it could be your downfall.

I completely support the idea of having a buddy, especially if you’re the kind of person that finds it hard to get up off your ass and do something about your fitness. But if you’re the kind of person who needs a buddy – your buddy should:

Be self-motivating: A buddy in a co-dependent relationship is not going to be a driver. They need to be able to give you the motivation on those “ah not today mate, not feeling my best” days.

Have similar goals: …or knowledge. There is very little use in you going to the gym with someone who is just looking to pump and get size if your goal is to lose weight and improve anaerobic capacity. They need to help the process along.

NOT be as in need of a buddy as you: This sounds silly and kind of ties back into self motivating, but if your buddy is going to be slacking as badly as you know you can be guilty of – you’re never going to get anything done and it will only depress you both.

The most important thing is that your buddy is not your personal trainer but also shouldn’t be in the same boat as you and should be able to drive you. Also even if you have a buddy, you cannot rely on them to be your motivator. If they aren’t going to the gym, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to. If you planned it – do it! Then tell your buddy you did it anyway and both of you will be proud of you!

Writing this advice seems odd as so many people do choose to buddy up with their friends with the mutual ideal of “let’s lose weight together, sign up at the same gym etc” but if you thought it was hard ‘finding time’ on one person’s schedule, if your buddy is your leaning post, you’re now trying to work out within 2 people’s schedules. Nine times out of Ten, the only winner in these relationships is your gym who got two people to sign up for an annual membership but used the treadmill a total of 4 times never to return.

SO IN CONCLUSION: Buddies = Good, Leaning Posts = Bad. There is nothing wrong with asking a friend or colleague, who is really into fitness, for some help. If they are passionate about fitness, they are a lot more willing to help than you think. Take it from me – if the certain people I was referring to had asked me to gym with them and help them, I would have been so happy to help! I would have actually been complimented. Instead they buddied up and in a 2 year membership which is 19 months in, they have been twice (and are still complaining about their bodies).

You may watch sponsored youtube videos promising the secret to 6 packs, or the “get a flat belly by eating these 4 superfoods”. You may even decide that the secret is to pick an important event and say “I want to lose 15Kg by my sister’s wedding”.

The secret to success as we all can guess is by doing 3 extremely simple things:

  1. Choose a realistic objective
  2. Make an achievable plan
  3. Execute

Now here’s the problem. That’s actually not the full story – it’s the simple version to get you thinking but the truth is (especially in fitness) those three items come with fine-print which make all the difference.

  1. Choose a realistic objective – which is based on a long term goal (e.g. to maintain XXXKg, to maintain a 6 pack, or even just to be a healthy, better version of “me”)
  2. Make an achievable plan that represents a lifestyle change. E.g. Don’t say “I’ll stay off carbs for the next 30 days and run 3 times a week” – say “I’m going to change to a diet which suits my fitness objectives and exercise regime” and let the diet will change as you change
  3. Execute unwaveringly – maintaining your faith in the process.

My personal fitness belief is simple – fitness should never be a short term goal.

It shouldn’t be about losing 10Kg for a wedding or getting the big look in time for a beach holiday. Fitness has to be an attitude, a life-style. It has to be something you live and breathe. I don’t mean that fitness is about being a gym rat – not at all and we all deserve our cheat days! But fitness is not a fashion accessory or a fad to be “for the summer”. It should be treated like a financial investment – you put in regularly into the right structures and future-you will thank you for the diligence.

Credit for the below goes to TimeManagementNinja.com but it’s a great list:

Here are 8 Reasons To Push Yourself Today:

  1. To Leave Your Comfort Zone – Leave your comfort zone. Go outside of it and see the rest of the world. If you always do the same things, you will always get the same results.
  2. You Are Stronger Than You Think – We all have inner strength. Yet, most people never tap that strength. They get conditioned to not exert themselves and live meekly, instead of boldly. You are stronger than you think, make sure you use that strength.
  3. To Learn New Things – The only way to acquire new skills is to try. You may fail the first several times. But, that is how you learn, grow, and ultimately succeed at new endeavors.
  4. To Get in Shape – A body at rest stays at rest. (Yes, this applies to physical fitness as well as physics.) Get your body moving, even if it only means taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Take those first steps to getting in shape.
  5. To Do a Little More – Push yourself to do more than you did yesterday. Even 5 minutes more of an activity or job can add up over time. What could you do a little more of today?
  6. To Know Yourself – When you push yourself, you get to know yourself. In the end, we are only competing against ourselves. It is through exertion and pushing yourself that you will come to know your own limits, beliefs, and strengths.
  7. To Build Momentum – As a body at rest stays at rest, a body in motion stays in motion. Building momentum in one area, will help you accomplish more in all areas of your life.
  8. To Test Your Limits – Until you push yourself, how will you know how far you can go? It is only by testing your limits that you can determine where they truly are. Of course, next time, you can try to exceed those limits.

GO OUT THERE AND PUSH YOURSELF. MAKE THIS DAY COUNT 🙂

This weekend I got a real “ants in my pants” moment of passion for the exercise and in the morning of Saturday, while waiting for my gym to open (in China gyms all open in the late morning or afternoon – WHAT!.. I know right?) I went for a long run through the streets of Shanghai. It was one of the most satisfying runs I have had for ages and in no small part thanks to the Polar Watch I’ve been going on about. Thanks to the polar watch I know that in the 1 hour and 10 minutes I was running in the outdoor heat, my heart rate averaged 164 and hit a peak of 178bpm. The other good thing to read was that (before fair “give or take”) I earned myself 1,200 calories burned during the course of my city-wide run.

During this run I put my finger on two very important things anyone who street-runs knows about street running versus treadmill running. Below are the two Murphy’s Laws of street running (from the famous Murphy’s law that “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”)

Murphy’s First Law of Street Running:

If you are street running in a city – you will either get a non-stop flow going or you will hit every pedestrian red light available between you an your destination… and have to wait for a considerable time at each one.

Murphy’s Second Law of Street Running

While running, once you are half way (thus furthest from your home) you will either not need the toilet or be absolutely bursting…. there is no in-between in street running.

All jokes aside, it was an amazing run. It also gave me a great excuse to skip legs during the gym that afternoon. I went on Saturday, took a mild rest on Sunday just going for a long walk and then yesterday I trained again. Given my continuing goal of losing fat and gaining muscle, I was combining high cardio with intense muscle work in supersets (e.g. going 10 ski-abs from the INSANITY workout immediately followed by 5 pull-ups, then repeated 5 times for 1 set.

Something really made my day though. The more regular of you followers will recall that my gym owner is in his mid-forties, Chinese with no English ability at all, and absolutely stacked. Well yesterday while I was working out, one of the gym goers comes up to me and starts asking me in his broken English a series of questions about my workout, what protein I’m taking etc. The whole time the “coach” (owner) is looking on curiously. My new friend sees me noticing and says “the coach asked me what you were drinking. He thinks you are very strong. He says you come almost every day”.

……he noticed! 🙂

Anyway, I realise I owed you all a progress picture yesterday and forgot (shame on me). Please go easy on me – I’ve just had a month off for my two weddings! As such I’m going to be comparing an overall progress from Week 1.

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Well not long now until my wedding! There is still so much to pack before my flight tomorrow back home and still so much to arrange. We have last minute drop outs which kind of brings me down, I’ve got plenty going on at work that my poor boss is going to have to take over during my one month vacation and I have so much anxiety (not because of the bride or the fact I’m getting married, ironically just the event itself). Luckily I have some great colleagues who took me out to dinner last night and treated me and my fiancee to a nice sendoff dinner at a local (and incredible) Indian restaurant. Hardly the healthiest choice but I stuck to tea – no beer for the new man I am!

There are only two things which really keep me going during this stressful time – the upcoming vacation where, wedding or not, I know I will feel so much more relaxed and the GYM!  There is nothing silly or “energy” related to it – IT’S SCIENCE. Everyone feels the same because why? – Your body releases endorphins (hormones associated with happiness and reward) when you exercise. Also your testosterone (don’t need to explain that one) levels increase and your epinephrin (adrenaline) increases. So the reason I feel good after the gym and I feel like my problems are solvable is more than just “because I went to the gym”… the exercise has literally turned my body into a powerhouse of positive energy, muscles pumped for ‘fight or flight’ and feelings of aggressive confidence.

And if that isn’t enough each of these items is helping to consume energy from carbohydrates and fat in my body, while leveling out my cortisol (stress hormone) levels and overall just making my mind and my body a healthier place to be.

So next time you think “I’m too sad/tired/bummed out to go to the gym”, remember:
THE GYM COULD WELL BE YOUR CURE FOR ALL OF THE ABOVE!!!

But to the point: I have not long to go until my wedding so I have recruited the help of the one man who can deliver the hail mary of fitness: my personal trainer in Singapore. I’m going home via Singapore and I have a one day layover. During that short 24 hour stint, I have booked this machine of body transformation for a 2 hour “if I don’t throw up – you have failed” style session before I get on the plane. This man is hilarious – he is huge but not the least bit unnaturally so. I will say only this: He is the reason you have 60Kg dumbells in your gym.