Body fat – from probably 14.5% 3 months ago to 8.6% (last checked ~2 wks ago)
Weight – 111 lbs to 101.0 lbs today
Height – 5’2, so BMI = 18.5 now
I recently got a few messages from people who asked me for weight loss tips as I’ve started working out again since May this year. It actually started way back this year when I made my New Year’s resolution to get more fit, but I never really put things into action because work was so hectic. Now that I have more time on my hands, I feel like it’s time to really take care of my body again after a decade in the healthcare field, I was stuffing myself and eating out all the time cuz there was no way of telling when I’d need to work 48 hours straight on call! So hopefully the following tips and my personal story can be of help for you to become more healthy!
1) Find what motivates you!
Find as many reasons as you can to motivate yourself! One or two reasons won’t cut it (which I’ve tried every summer), because it really has to be multi-dimensional to cover all aspects of your life. The more inspiration you can get from people around you, work, personal life…etc, the more solid your plan will have its foundation and build into a longterm investment for your own health. Remember your goal(s) should be achievable within a certain time frame. If they’re too unrealistic, then you’ll only set yourself up to disappointment and failure. Conquering a little at a time will give you reinforcement and endurance for maintaining your workouts in the long run!
i. A great mentor once said to me, “What happened to YOU?!?! You used to be an athlete!!!” I will never forget these words that slowly began to haunt me… In my teens, I did a lot of sports and my body was super-toned. I was doing figure skating 15 hours/week, with complimentary ballet, weights, aerobics, and I was also on the school volleyball team – ironic since I’m short lol. We had a pool in our backyard as well and I would swim with my dad all the time. As you can see, I was quite active, so when my mentor said that to me, I really felt ashamed of how I let my body go… Other people close to me (preceptors, colleagues, friends, including my parents!) somehow were all working out this summer, which ultimately helped me get off couch!
ii. I’m very self-conscious and began to avoid taking pictures… For my blog and tPF, I still posted modelling pix, but I was avoiding certain angles and editing more on Photoshop. Not only so, my clothing sizes were climbing up too, and it was not just due to various brands’ fit discrepancy. Plus, I had a few special events to attend, which helped to motivate me some more. It’s always important to dress well, cuz you never know who you may end up meeting! My beloved Roland Mouret dresses were fitting tighter in the waist area, but now I can finally wear my Alexander Wang backless dress again and fit more into his tomboy/androgynous clothing line!
iii. After moving to another city, not only do I have a new job in a new environment, but I also wanted to refresh myself with a new me! The city is gorgeous, classy, and filled with exceptional people. You go down the street and there’s no telling of which famous person you might meet! I noticed of the few people I met outside of work, they were all very much into fitness and I wondered why? My own reasoning is that we have so many 6 course dinner events (yeah last week I had 3!!!), that it becomes a necessity to work out, which explains all the posh fitness clubs in town. I never realized that going to the gym can be a trendy thing and of course I wanted to be “in” the game! lol
iv. Lastly, my New Year’s resolution actually stemmed from when I got my Rolex watch for my birthday gift. Any luxury “horlogerie” enthusiast will know that the more active a person is, the faster the watch will run, which is why if you don’t wear it for a while, the movement stops. Automatic watches depend on the individual’s daily movements: the more oscillations, the more bounce to the spring, and taadaaaaa! You’ve now gained time and into the future! lol Ok not really, but I just prefer to have my watch pace faster since I’m notoriously late for everything. Now it’s almost 20 minutes ahead and you can calculate the distance for how much I’ve ran ;). Stay active, stay ahead of time!
2) Find the best gym and work with a personal trainer (PT)!
I had some preconceived ideas of gyms in the past, but I was literally DRAGGED to one recently and ended up loving it! A brand new 14 million dollar investment gym, which has everything you can imagine all in one place. Who wouldn’t want to sign up to such a posh club? lol I already mentioned that I’m super self-conscious and used to hate the idea of people seeing me all sweaty and panting. I prefer to have others see me when I’m all made up and ready to go out – well I realized that actually got me nowhere! I strongly recommend finding the best gym you can afford, and if possible a PT to help tailor your goals as they have tons of expertise. It’s costly, but YOU are worth it! For me it’s an investment, if I know that I spent a lot of money on something, I’m more likely to take advantage of it. Otherwise, I’ve always had a gym and swimming pool in my past apartments, but never took advantage of these amenities because they were free and too easily accessible. Now I work out EVERYDAY, if not twice a day for a total of 2-3 hours! I wake up at 5AM and go super early to beat the traffic and also after work again to avoid the afternoon traffic! lol Why waste all that time on the road when you can use it for something more productive? It’s hard at first, but it’s important to be committed to something that you value. Another benefit? Working out actually energizes me more these days! I recommend a gradual increase in the number of days you exercise and the level of intensity as well. Consult a personal trainer for a tailored fitness regimen!
Tip: Find a gym that offers free trials or promotions to see if you like the environment and make sure their opening hours fit your schedule. Avoid the dirty gyms and creepers… Most people at my gym are professionals and look quite fit, which in the past I would be intimidated by, but I’ve changed my opinion and feel like they are an inspiration! Now, I can run faster, longer, and do most cardio exercises better than the majority of people! And I only have those around me who have inspired me to begin with to thank! Think of it this way, imagine the hottest celeb, you wanna get your body to look like his/hers, right? So use him/her as your motivation! lol Ok jokes aside, even if one is not that good at first when working out, there are lots of other people in the same boat, but many of us are all willing to try hard. You might even meet a friend to support your goals, but I caution you about socializing at the gym – this is NOT a place to gossip and network, you should be here to work out! Stay focused!
Don’t like co-ed? Prefer women’s only?
Other than for religious or cultural reasons, I really don’t support the notion of women’s only if you simply “don’t feel like it” for personal reasons… Like I said, I was really intimidated in the past, but don’t be put off by men! If someone is really fit, use that as an inspiration! I always do co-ed, unless I’m doing weights alone (with my PT we’re in the co-ed gym), cuz as much as I admire the men for their muscles and all, they have gotta learn to wipe down the machines and some guys’ BO is disturbing…
It’s boring at the gym, I prefer to run outdoors and be in the fresh air!
No worries, there are tons of distractions at a good gym! Each of my gym’s equipment has a TV, plugging for your music device/smart phone, and has a personal fan! I used to like running outdoors too, but it’s hard in the summer with all that heat and the weather can be unpredictable (I was soaked once in a thunderstorm). The air was not so fresh then… So now I prefer being in a controlled temperature environment, I blast my music, set my fan blowing, program my favourite TV show, and then there’s a wall of more TVs to watch – I can now zone out!
How do you mentally prepare yourself?
I think this ties back to what is really motivating you and what your priorities are. I want to improve, I want to take control of my body again, and I won’t deny this but I was quite upset for a while for some things at work and in my personal life. I had to zone out and focus on myself. I’m very happy these days though because I feel like I’m gaining back my self-esteem. However, prior to each work out, I do sorta get all pumped up and somewhat “aggressive” lol! I know some guys will think about really violent thoughts, which is disturbing in my opinion… I’m not like that, but I do have to get some testosterone going! haha Then post-work out, we have our endorphins oozing out (think of it as a natural high stimulating the “pleasure” centre in our brain), so that maintains my routine. These days, if I don’t work out for a day, I feel like I’m craving for something lol.
Aside: One of my residents and I actually had a long discussion about fitness, and he was like, “you have an addiction!”
Me, “oh yeah? To what?”
Me, “no not really, I only picked this up over the last few months”
Him, “then you’re addicted to something”
Me, “maybe… but it’s not the typical drugs or alcohol!”
Him, “you have a foot fetish or something”
Me very surprised and chuckling inside, cuz I was thinking to myself, yeah I have a more serious problem – a shoe obsession!!! lol
What is your exercise routine like? If one has injuries, should you still work out?
I have to emphasize the importance of stretching and I only learned this the hard way when I injured my back – I’ve never had in my life such sharp shooting, radiating pains down my leg while I was running that I forced myself to stop. I was doing these 10km runs which strained my ankles, but I kept at it. I was sorta limping and running at the same time, which must have shifted my body weight in some weird way that I ended up getting sciatica! That’s right, even my resident diagnosed me and I had a positive straight leg test and could barely weight-bear on one leg. Guess who fixed me in the end? No, not some fancy ortho doc, but my PT! My gluts were likely getting tighter and squeezing the sciatic nerve, plus my weird compensated running pinched the nerve. So I’ve been doing these stretches which have significantly helped in 2 weeks, my back pain is 70-80% improved! Evidence nowadays does NOT recommend resting. So whatever minor injury you have, suck it up and keep exercising! However, be very careful with back pain, seek a professional’s help and even for me, I’m off the treadmill for a while but I don’t stop here – there are plenty of other exercises to do! So here’s my routine:
– Jacobs ladder x 3 mins which is the fastest way to get your heart pumping!
– Stair Master (replacing my running) 300 – 700 calories depending on the day and how much time I have before my PT session
– Weight training with PT x 1 hour alternating upper/lower body days (we work out 1-2X/wk)
– Elliptical ~50-100 calories to restart cardio or I’ll do the Jacobs ladder again
– More Stair Master…. LOVE this! lol
– Walk on treadmill on incline ~50 calories to cool down
– 100-200 situps, 100-200 leg lifts, other core exercises…etc.
– Stretching+++ including the splits!
– Steam room x 15 mins!!! Relax!
All this will burn at least 700 calories for me! On a light day, I’ll work out for at least 400 calories worth of exercises; weekends I tend to go intense for 800-900 calories; so I guess on average about 500 calories a day. Remember that If you’re heavier set, the more calories you will burn off because you’re carrying more weight; and the opposite holds true for more petite frames, i.e. you’ll have to work harder to burn off the same amount.
3) Eat healthy!
This is a no brainer – the more fruits and veggies, the better! I’ve cut out all snacks, pastries, and sweets which is my area of weakness! Minimize your carbohydrate intake as well (remember the Kreb cycle!) and just because something is healthy eg. nuts (very high in calories), do keep your portions small/moderate. I also used to go out to eat all the time, but I’ve made a huge transition to start preparing my own meals. Not only have my cooking skills improved, it’s so much healthier this way and you can keep track of your calories better. That’s right I recommend keeping track of how much calories you eat (there are plenty of good apps, eg. My Fitness Pal), so that you know how hard you should work out! Whatever your fitness regimen is, don’t skip meals, just eat healthier and in smaller portions!
Example of today’s meals: +1250 calories total (-875 calories of work out) = net 375 calories!
Morning – 400 calories
Honey Oats and Flakes with Almonds – 2 cups
Natrel 1% lactose free milk – 1 cup
Brewed coffee with Splenda and milk – 1 cup
Lunch – 400 calories
Southwestern pasta salad – 2 cups
(original recipe from Allrecipe.com, but I’ve tweaked it by adding cucumbers, chicken breast pieces, more spices & chili peppers, as well as cutting back on the pasta and oil).
Dinner – 350 calories
Spinach salad with mushrooms, tomatoes, cucumbers, avocados, blueberries, cranberries, raisins, mixed nuts, and balsamic vinaigrette.
Side dish of 1/2 grilled chicken breast with mangos, onions, and tomatoes.
Snacks – 100 calories
Watermelon – 1 cup
4) Find your support network!
You’ll meet a lot of people who share similar goals as you! Build your support system, but don’t rely or over-depend on them eg. don’t just work out with your friend according to his/her schedule! Like I said before, going to the gym should be to focus on your health and not socialize and gossip in my opinion. I’ve seen too many gyms where some people just chatter away the entire time. On the other hand, if you have friends with poor habits, let them know of your plans for becoming more healthy and I’m sure if they’re reasonable, they won’t be upset if you decline to go out eating/drinking/smoking with them. Otherwise, ditch those “friends”! lol
5) Buy proper work-out gear!
In the words of my PT today, “you may not be the best at that (weights), but at least you look good!!!” lol Anyhow, I’m more of a cardio person, so stay focused and sweat a lot! While you may look like a hot mess with smeared mascara and all, at least have your clothing attire look amazing! So yeah, that’s right I practically bought down Lululemon over the last 2 months! I used to be very anti-Lulu because as an ex-figure skater, we only believed in Mondor…. Well, a lot of my bra cups were messed up after all these years (see tip below), so I tried Lulu’s “Energy” bra and fell in love! I would also recommend their “Free To Be” bra for those who are small chested. Their tanks and shorts are great too, try “Run Times” and “Run Speed” shorts! Others brands: Adidas by Stella McCartney and Lucas Hugh, which are more expensive but you can often find them on sale.
Tip: Do NOT wash your active wear with cotton, which will cause the nylon/polyester to pill! Always use cold water, gentle tumble, and I know it’s not recommended, but I tumble dry everything under low heat, which has been fine so far.
Also to prevent your bra cups from losing their shape, take out the removable pads! I gather mine and at the end of the week, hand wash all the pads and air-dry. I only recently found out how to properly wash bras/tops, and used to just dump everything in the dryer which destroyed them…
The top left bamboo/tencel/cashmere sweater shown below is super comfortable and stylish. The posterior is backless to show off your favourite bra! I also love the 1/2-mesh T in black in the top right pic (a little Helmut Lang inspired?), which is a great cover-up if I need to run some quick errands before going to the gym so that others don’t see me in just a tank top or too “bare.”
Lastly, I bought this Lulu jacket which is soooooo comfy! Now it may not seem all that special, but the reason it caught my eye is because it reminds me of Rick Owen’s DRKSHDW clothing line – now see the similarities?
Lastly, new Nike Zoom Structure 17 in Mango, purchase from Net-a-Porter, which I’ve gotten a lot of compliments already and several ladies came to ask where I got them! Even my PT loves them lol! They’re super bright and unfortunately hard to capture its fluorescence under camera. I didn’t find them in Canada, so I don’t mind paying extra duties for a more unique pair 😀
Lastly, a quick pic of myself heading out in my new workout gear! I do have something else very special to share – yes it’s CUSTOM MADE!!! Again all dedicated to my new “addiction” as some would say! Do you see it in the background?!?? Please check out my newest reveal here.
Shop hard, live long, healthy, and happy Mid-Autumn Moon Festival!!!