Monday, December 28, 2009

Making A New Year's Resolution That Sticks

It’s that time of the year again, when festivities are in the air and everyone is out partying and having a feast. Nothing wrong with that, I have been a complete glutton over the past 2 weeks as well and this weekend, I will be in Penang – Food Paradise of Malaysia.

It is also the time when people start making new years resolutions which usually don’t last. Last year, before we welcomed 2009, I gave some tips on how to make a proper new years resolution to be fitter and healthier. I hope those who did follow those tips stuck with the program. For those who tried and failed, perhaps this posting will be of some use to you.

Why do so many people make a New Year’s Resolution and never stick with it? The reason is, people don’t have a concrete reason for doing it. A lot of times, people just make a resolution, because:-
a) it is year end and that’s what they’ve been doing for the past umpteen years. So why not do it again.
b) people make a resolution because they feel guilty from all the year end festivities, be it eating too much, drinking too much or smoking too much. So to comfort themselves with this total loss of control, they tell themselves – It’s OK, starting next year I will cut down or quit blah blah blah.

Though these are reasons, they are not powerful enough to make a lasting change. What you need is a real reason which is impactful and will move you.

For the moment, I am going to be referring to making resolutions on a being fit, losing weight and becoming healthier. But with some small tweaks to this, you can easily use this technique for other things.

So how do you find this reason? Simple. Answer the questions below truthfully and honestly. If you lie and write something which you think is the correct answer, you are only cheating yourself. Take some time to think about your answers, and your answers should be nice long ones. 2 to 3 sentences at least. Be very descriptive with your answers. It’s best to sit in a quiet place when doing this and set aside 20 to 30 minutes of undisturbed “me time” for this session.

1) Why do you want to make this change. (what is the driving force for this change)
2) What is your goal. (be specific, if it’s weight loss, have a specific number of Kgs you want to lose)
3) How would you feel once you achieve your this goal. (your emotions, the praises)
4) What is it that you truly want to do in life, but you can’t right now because you are overweight, unfit and not healthy
5) What would happen if you conitnue your unhealthy lifestyle (include how you would feel if you continued)

Once you answer these 5 questions in writing, keep it with you and make a point to read these answers at least once a week. If you must, read it every morning when you wake up. By answering these questions properly and honestly, you will discover a deep reason for wanting to make the change and hopefully make you decide on wanting to embrace this change. If you find it extremely difficult to find the answers and still don’t feel moved, it means that subconsciously you are not ready to make the change yet, hence why your mind is rejecting the idea and finding it difficult to come to an answer. In short, if you have truly made a decision to change, nothing will stop you, and if you are not ready to make the change, then you will be stopping yourself.

So go ahead, take some time and answer these questions, and you will surely succeed. As usual, look forward to hearing your comments and I would like to wish Happy New Year to everyone.

PS: Can you read what's written on the women's bottoms? :-)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Virtual Trainer - Part 1

As promised in my last posting, I will share with all of you, the meal plan and exercise plan for the Biggest Loser Allianz. This posting is called the Virtual Trainer, because all of you can read and follow the exercise routine and meal plan and lose weight easily. When it is time to change the exercise or increase the intensity, I will post it up here, so you will know when its time to make those changes. Also, if you have any questions, leave a comment and I will get back to you. So in short, its like having a Personal Trainer, but in a virtual setting and its absolutely free of charge. I hope everyone who reads this blog on a regulare basis will take the opprtunity to try this out.

So here is the plan.

Meal Plan
Once I received all the food diaries from the participants, I noticed a few common traits. Perhaps some of you may be doing the same, if you are, its time to break those habits.

Bad Habits
1) Sweet Drinks – On Average, these participants were consuming between 5 to 7 sweet drinks a day. I am not saying no sweet drinks at all, but sweet drinks are what I like to call empty calories. Does not fill you up, but high in calories and these are calories you can do without
2) Snacking – all the participants have similar traits. They constantly snack on unhealthy things between their meals. From Goreng pisang, to keropok to karipap. Again, these are unnecessary calories.
3) Unhealthy Choice of Food – One of the biggest problems I noticed is, that all the participants had poor choice of food. The normal breakfast is either nasi lemak, mee goreng or some kind of cheese bun.

Not wanting to make it too drastic, I decided to make 3 simple changes to their diet plan. So here is what they are doing now.
1) Breakfast has to be healthy. The choices they have are:-
a) cereal with low fat milk and a green apple. Cereal here refers to oat bran kind of cereal like Nestle Fitness. No Koko Crunch, Honey Stars and Fruit Loops as these are mainly sugar based.
b) 2 half boiled eggs and 2 slices of wholemeal toast
c) Wholemeal Sandwich – egg sandwich, chilli tuna sandwich (no Mayo) or ham sandwich
d) Thosai or Iddly

2) No Snacking in between. Keep your meals to Brakfast, Lunch and Dinner only. No Snacking in between be it a drink or food. This way, they truly appreciate their food now
3) Keeping sweet drinks to just 4 glasses a day. So now that these partcipants have a quota each day, they really got to consciously think about every drink that they have. May target is to reduce this to 2 drinks per day.

Exercise Routine
When coming up with the exercise routine, I had 2 main challenges. 1) the lack of equipment –so I had to get creative with what I had. 2) that these participants have never worked out before and you can’t push them too much or they will get injured.

With those 2 things in mind, here is the exercise routine I designed for them.

Chair Squats
10 reps, 3 sets with 1 minute rest between sets. The reason for going with chair squats instead of normal squats, because I am not sure if these participants can handle it. Its basically sitting down and getting up from the chair, but you are not allowed to use your hands to assist.

Wall Push Ups
10 reps, 3 sets with 1 minute rest between sets. Wall push ups are a great way to build up your push up strength. If you are not able to do push ups, you can start of with wall push ups first until you become stronger. To do this, stand about 2 feet away from the wall, put your arms straight and rest against the wall. As you get stronger, you will move your feet further and further away from the wall.

Box lift
10 reps, 3 sets with 1 minute rest between sets. I filled up a box with about 1kg of paper. Then I had them bendover, and lift it up above their heads. As they improve, I will keep increasing the weight.

Knee ups
10 reps each leg, 3 sets with 1 minute rest between sets. To finish up, I made them do a march on the spot. They needed to raise their knees as high as they could, put it down, and then raise the other knee.

This routine needs to be performed 4 times a week and for best results, they should finish up with a 20 minute walk. So do the routine above first, and then finish up with a 20 minute walk. But since this is their first time, I just got them to do this and skipped the walking bit. But this week, I am planning on doing this and adding in the walking bit. I hope all of you will give this workout routine and meal plan and a try and enjoy the results.

Before I sign off, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone and look forward to reading your comments.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Biggest Loser Allianz

Recently, one of my office colleagues was admitted to hospital because of a heart condition. He is a 40 plus male and weighs 129.5kg… yup… he is way way overweight. After being discharged, we (HR) approached him and told him that he really needs to be serious about losing weight as he is walking on a thin line. He has been admitted to hospital before for other health problems because of his obesity, so we thought he needs to do something soon before it becomes more serious. At the same time, there have been some other colleagues who were also interested in losing weight, but of course, just never got down to it. They have asked me for advice before, and I have told them what to do and what not to do, but I guess they tried it for a couple of days and just gave up after that. Lack of staying power is one of the biggest reasons for people not seeing results.

With the hype of the Biggest Loser Asia which is running on TV right now, we thought it would be timely for us to run what we call – the Biggest Loser Allianz. So we called some of the other overweight people in our office and we are happy to announce that we now have 3 participants. These are people who want to lose weight, but breaking their habits and core values is going to be a tough job. Because there are 3 of them, we hope that this will help to keep them on the path for a longer time than just a couple of days. Below is a quick look at their bio. I am using the participants innitials as i want to protect their identity for the moment. So there will be no pictures as well.

So what is the program all about? I was nominated to be the fitness instructors for these people. I started out by asking them to do a food diary for one week. A food diary is basically a way for you to keep track of what you are eating. So everything that goes into their mouth be it a drink or even a sweet, needs to be jotted down. From there, I will review this and come up with a personalized meal plan for them. The meal plan can’t be too drastic, or I will have people dropping off the program in 2 weeks. So it has to be gradual (from their current eating pattenrs & habits) into a much healthier plan.

I am doing my best to monitor their eating but there is only so much I can do. I guess it really comes down to the participants making a conscious decision that they are fed up with the way they look and want to make the change. But that is something they have to do themselves… like the saying goes, you can take a horse to the water, but you can’t make it drink. So I hope there is some competitive spirit among the 3 which will drive them to stick with the changes I prescribe.

I have also planned an exercise routine for all of them. Participant RA is the one that worries me the most. Due to his heart condition and body size, I can’t push him as much. For now, all I have precribed for him is walking for 20 minutes. I will gradually increase this until we can start doing something more vigorous. But so far, just giving the participants the plan isn’t good enough as only RN has been diligently doing it. The rest have not done anything and I hear heaps of excuses from no time to not feeling well. So I realize I have to take a more personal approach and actually force them to meet me after work where we do the regime together. So we are starting tomorrow.

The program will run for 6 months and my job is to motivate them to the best of my abilities. We are also seeking sponsorship from some of our vendors, where the person with the highest percentage of weight loss will walk away with the grand prize… in essence, a carrot for these people to achieve their weight loss goals. Of course we cannot see drastic results like the real show, but that is done in a controlled environment and all the participants do is eat proper meals, work out about 4 to 5 hours a day and rest. But I still have faith that we will see some significant weight loss in 6 months. Will keep you guys updated as we progress along the 6 months, so keep checking back.

For those who are interested in losing weight and don’t know how, here is your golden opprtunity. I will keep posting some updates on their workout routine and meal plan, so that you can follow it as well, for FREE. In essence, you have your own personal Virtual Trainer. Just check out our blog and follow the plan. How simple is that?

So good luck to the participants and those at home. As usual, look forward to hearing your comments and thoughts.

Monday, December 7, 2009

2 years and still no results?

I was having a chat with some friends the other day about the previous posting and the interesting topic on personal training in the gym came up. We were sharing some stories and I told my friends about some personal trainers who have been training some clients for over 2 years now, and they look the same today as they did 2 years back. I am not kidding.

One of my friends was shocked by this and said it’s impossible, as long as you are doing some amount of a workout, you are bound to see some results, so it is unbelievable that this is happening. He probably did see some results, but not enough for it to be noticeable. They are not extremely obese, but a little bit on the chubby side and have a pretty obvious belly problem.

I agree that after 2 years of training and no results, something is wrong somewhere. So, I have listed down several reasons as to why people don’t see results even though they have been with a personal trainer for 2 years.

1) No Progress – Lots of people start a routine and forget that they have to keep challenging themselves. For some reason, the personal trainer I am talking about has stopped increasing the resistance and making it more challenging. Maybe the client has some injury which prevents him from doing more, I can only guess at this moment
2) You are what you eat – This old saying is so true when it comes to fitness. Yes, the trainer has 1 full hour to train this person, but then for the next 23 hours, the trainer has no control. This is one of the limitations of personal training. It is missing that very important nutrition part. If you eat a lot of unhealthy food, 1 hour of training 3 times a week will only be a scratch in terms of impact. This guy could be drinking 4 to 5 times a week for all I know, hence the training has little or no effect
3) Burn Out – Burn out is very real and not just something in the mind. If you keep doing the same exercises everyday, eventually your body adapts and you will stop seeing results. This is why it is important to mix and match from time to time to confuse the body and keep seeing results.
4) The Personal Trainer really does not know what they are doing. Now I hate to say that, but you must admit, this is another posibility. Sometimes I see personal trainers doing stupid exercises and I wonder where they even got this idea from. Oh well.

So why do these clients stick with the Personal trainers if they are not seeing results? One person told me that sometimes these clients just want some one to talk to as they feel lonely. If you ask me, at about RM 100 per hour, that’s a very expensive price to pay just to have someone to talk to. I don’t know.

So what do you guys think. Please share your thoughts and look forward to hearing your comments.

PS: Please take a moment to answer the poll on the right. Since we are on the topic of personal trainers, I want to know, what is the most important quality that a personal trainer should have. So share your thoughts there too.