Monday, October 31, 2011

Preparing for Penang Bridge Run

The Penang Bridge Run is just around the corner and i have been spending quite a bit of time preparing for it. YES, i have registered for it and am going to be going for my first 10KM run. Some time ago, i wrote about running and said i would participate in 1 race this year...and yes.... i finally have. Have i become more fond of running... honestly - not really. maybe this will change after the run... i am not sure. i mean i don't mind running, but if i had a choice between running and lifting weights... you all know which one i would choose. would i like to prepare for a 42km, errr.... at the moment NO. it really isn't part of my goals. am quite happy with my 10km achievement.

So my workout routine has changed a little to ensure i am able to slot in enough cardio sessions to prepare me for the run. Also, i am lifting some amount of weights, but i know bulking will be difficult while i prepare for the run... so i am just targeting on mantaining what i have until the day of the run, then concerntrate of bulking up again after this.

The big question on everyone's mind is... how do you train for a run? Well here are some tips for working out and i hope it helps you with planning your own routine.

1) Don't overtrain
I put this as the first tip because many people tend to over train. When you over train, you are more likely to get injured. If you are planning on running 10km, it does not mean you have to do 10km for every workout. Doing about 5km to 6km is more than enough to prepare for the run. Yes, you might want to try and complete a full 10km at some point before the race, just to know what it feels like, but you don't have to make every workout a 10km run.

2) Train with some friends

If you are going for a run, i am 99% sure that you are joining the run with some friends or family members. It would be great to train with these people. One thing i noticed, i can almost double my distance of running when i run with people - compared to when i run alone. Why? Because it becomes more fun and you start enjoying it more. Also training with others gives you a good perception of how good or not good you are. When you run alone all the time, you have no way of benchmarking how good or poor you are. So this is one way to discover where you need to be.

3) Training Time

It is highly recommended that you try to run at the same time as your run / race day. If you have a morning run which kicks off at 4am, you will want to try at least a couple of training sessions at 4am as well. If you have a night race, then you will want to try and run at night. This is just to ensure that you know what it feels like and gives your body a chance to adapt to the timing. Law of SAID. It would be even better if you could train on the actual track itself.

4) Do them darn hills

I hate running uphill but doing uphills really trains up your stamina and leg strength. The more hills you do, the stronger you become and on race day you won't need to worry about change in terrain. One big mistake many people do is to keep their trainings light and then on race they get fatigued because they were not prepared for it. Make your trainings more challenging and intense than the actual race that on your race day, you will breeze through it. If you only train on flat ground all the time, you are going to suffer on race day should there be any hills. But if you always train on hills and on race day you have a full flat road, then you will blaze through the course. so remember.... keep it more challenging than race day, but don't don't overtrain by doing too much. Your workouts need to be intense but not the point of overtraining.

5) Train at least twice a week

How often should you be running to prepare for a race? Ideally you should try to run about 3 times a week, but minimum 2 times a week. Your trainings should be spaced out as evenly as possible. So avoid doing running only on Saturday & Sundays. Try to spread it out. At least 2 to 3 weeks before the run, this frequency becomes even more important to maintain. So make sure you make some time for this. Again, 2 or 3 is good but that does not mean 5 or 6 is even better.

6) Get a good pair of shoes

Good shoes need not necessarily be the most expensive shoes or the most well known brand. i bought a RM 175 pair of Reeboks and it works fine. Initially i tried some other expensive brands all well above RM200, but it did not feel right... so i decided against getting them. When you try out the shoes for the first time, it should automatically feel "right". If it doesn't, then its not the right one for you. If you walk around a bit and still not sure, then it definitely isn't the shoe for you. You must get that feeling of comfort immediately. Just because 5 of your closest friends all swear by one shoe, it does not mean it will be right for you.

Those are just some basic tips to help you train and prepare for your run. I have been doing practice runs in Lake Gardens on the weekends and i will be doing one this coming Sunday. I shall post up the time later once i confirm with friends. But all of you are more than welcome to come and join us for this run. My target is to complete 10km on that practice run. So hope to see some of you then. As usual look forward to hearing your comments.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Protein helps to trigger weight loss

Protein is one of the essential macronutrients that we all need. In fact, we need to have protein to stay alive as it is "essential" for life. On a daily basis, our body requires what is called essential amino acids to live. When we do not get essential amino acids from our diet, your body will begin stripping its own muscle to provide the body with essential amino acids to live... and wasting away muscle is a bad thing. It not only affects your muscles ability to perform but it will also lower your metabolic rate.

When it comes to weight loss, you need to have protein in every meal. I know many dieters who think they are doing themselves a favour by just consuming salads or worse still, some people try to eat cereal for dinner in an effort to lose weight. Granted, that cereal does have some amount of protein, but its not going to be enough. To effectively lose weight, you need to up the amount of protein in your diet.

So why is protein so important for weight loss? Here are just some of the reasons why
1) Protein takes longer to digest - because protein molecules are more complex, it takes longer to digest. This also translates to keeping you full for longer, hence reducing snacking in between meals. Carbohydrates do a good a good job by filling you up quickly, but if your meal is only made out of carbs, you will notice that you will get hungry really fast. So make sure you add some protein into your diet.
2) Protein also encourages the release of Glucagon - which helps to release fat from fat stores and also decreases the body's ability to store fat. Double yes if you want to lose fat.
3) Protein also does not store as fat easily. Unlike carbohydrates which turn to sugar almost immediately, protein does not do that. It is possible to break down protein into sugar through a process called Gluconeogenesis, but this is only done as an absolute last resort.
4) Protein releases a natural weight loss hormone called PYY. When released in the gut, this hormone helps to reduce hunger. Eating protein rich food will help your body to easily release this hormone
5) Protein helps to maintain muscle mass, which is essential to maintaining a health metabolic rate. So if you want to keep your metabolic rate at high, then you must eat enough protein everyday - regardless of whether you are working out or not

Those are just some of the reasons why you need to have a healthy intake of protein everyday. Now i know most of you are thinking - wow... that means i can eat all the KFC i want. Well the answer is not really. The idea here is to get lean protein into your system. KFC does have lots of protein, but it also has lots of other things which you don't want. So i would not recommend it, unless you are able to provide your body with enough activity to burn it off.

So what are some good sources of lean protein?

1) Egss - it can't get simpler than this
2) Tuna in water - you can buy the cans and use them
3) Lean meats - red meats are fine as long as they don't have too much fat around them. However, my first choice would be chicken breasts
4) Fish - fish is one of the best ways to get lean protein. So if you eat out a lot, try to opt for fish, whenever you can.
5) Low fat milk - can't get easier than that. Make sure you have some low fat milk in your fridge at all times. If you are lactose intolerant like me, then soya is a good substitute. Only down side is most soya milk has sugar. If you can stomach the sugar free soya, then great. I opt for normal soya milk but i don't go over board with it. Usually just 2 cups a day.
5) Protein Powders - i highly recommend that you invest some money and get a good protein shake that you like. Protein powders is not just for body builders. Everyone can consume them and yes, to all my women readers you can too. You won't bulk up like the pictures you see on the tub of protein powder. Protein powders just takes the guess work out of getting lean protein and its so easy to prepare. PLUS, you can actually use it to replace meals. I would prefer this over meal replacements shakes.

So are you getting enough protein in your diet? To lose weight, just make sure you get protein in every meal you have. If you can do this, i am sure you will see the results you want. As usual, look forward to hearing your comments.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Back in Action

Hi guys... wow... no post in almost 3 weeks. My sincerest apologies. Was caught up with shooting a TV program with Kementrian Kesihatan and some local celebrities called Sihat 1, which is due to be aired on RTM 1 or 2 sometime soon. Will keep you guys posted on that. It was indeed a very interesting experience and it was nice. Am definitely looking forward to more opportunities such as this. Been also busy tying up some loose ends on my e-book... which should be out soon.

Anyway during my TV shoot, i met many people who asked loads of fitness questions. It was nice to hear from lay people as they really didn't know much about these things. And i guess i had forgotten what are some of the basic concerns that some people have. When you are into fitness, you focus on more technical things and forget that many lay people out there have very simple questions and concerns. So i have compiled them and here are the answers.

How do i reduce the fat around my belly?
This is obviously referring to spot reduction, which doesn't work. Whether you are looking at losing fat around your arms, hip, face or tummy - its all the same thing. You need to provide your body with a calorie deficit which will cause your body to burn that additional fat. Doing crunches does not focus on burning the fat around your belly. You will make your muscles stronger and more toned, but you won't see anything if its covered with layer of fat. But won't crunches be a good exercise to burn calories. Well doing crunches will use up some amount of calories but crunches alone isn't enough to create the deficit required to see the results you want. So no... crunches alone is not going to work.

Should i do cardio to burn fat
YES, that is one effective method of burning fat. But weight training will also be able to help you to burn fat. Doing loads of compound exercises in super sets is also extremely effective in raising your heart beat and melting fat. So cardio is NOT the only way to burn fat. You can use weight training.

I am skinny, can i really bulk up?
Why not? I was skinny once and i turned out ok... if i can, so can you. With the proper nutrition and the proper training routine, you can achieve it.

I heard that training your biceps and triceps on the same day is a waste of time.
Why? There is absolutely no scientific evidence that supports this. Now i know some muscles should not be trained together as it will dampen your performance of the second exercise. Eg. Doing triceps and then doing bench press - ya... you will notice a significant drop in your bench strength because you do use your triceps for bench press, and if you have worn it out, then you will feel it. But biceps and triceps are antagonistic muscles... meaning when one is working, the relaxes... hence if you are going to choose two muscles to work on, i would choose antagonistic muscles as my first choice. In fact that's what i do now. I train my chest and back on the same day and biceps and triceps on the same day as well. Because it is antagonistic, you don't have to worry about losing performance.

Will i become short if i lift heavy weights over my head?
I think i wrote about this some time back. NO.... your height is predominantly determined by your genetics as well as your nutrition during growth. Weight training has no effect on your height. This is just a myth.

These are just some of the questions i received and the answers that i shared with the people who asked me. In most of these questions i had to explain in detail as many people had formed "beliefs" and its not easy to shake someones beliefs. But i am glad i managed to answer the questions in a manner that enlightening to them.

Anyway... now that all this is done, i do hope i will be able to post more regularly.... my apologies again for the long silence. As usual, look forward to hearing your comments.