Monday, September 15, 2014

Criticized for Being Healthy

A few months ago, I was at a family gathering and there was food all around me. Trying to make wiser choices, I reached the fruit salad bowl on the table instead of a cheesecake and suddenly heard a family member saying: “Why are you starving yourself? That’s not going to fill you up!”

I had a really bad binge the day before and hearing more than one person comment on what I eat was very frustrating. I was already criticizing myself and feeling like a failure because of the food choices I’ve made the day before and having one more person criticize me felt horrible. I was fumed. I mean, how dare they criticize what I eat, when they have no idea the sacrifices I’ve made and the binges I’m trying to compensate for? How dare they comment on my food choices? It was as though my family were to blame for my eating disorders. Whenever I try to eat healthy, I get absolutely discouraged. For one reason or another, someone had to find a reason to project their negativity and discouragement onto my life and I’ll have to deal with it. I came back home, feeling like a failure, my binge urges were as strong as ever. I thought to myself that if I’m not being acknowledged for my hard work, why put the effort anyway? I might as well just binge. I practiced “This method” and 20 minutes later, I had a thought…

It’s easier to blame those around you but the truth is; you are your worst critic. Being overweight all my life, the hardest thing to do was having the courage to go beyond my vulnerability and uncertainty to achieve my goals. When I started working out, 6 years back, it wasn’t the hurtful comments from my “friends” and “classmates” that prevented me from starting. It was my own fears, my own criticism that held me back from truly pushing myself to the limits. It took me such a long time to realize that just because people criticize me, doesn’t mean they really care about my choices. They just criticize and move on. It was up to me to let it affect me or not. The degree of how it affected me reflected my insecurities and my fears. The internal struggle I go through everyday made me face my insecurities and hence, become a stronger person on the inside. 

Thing is, I’ve learned that it’s always good to balance between the external world (people around me), and my sanity (internal struggle). Once I have control over my internal struggles, nothing can break me.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Posture Check

It was a typical day at work when I went downstairs to grab some lunch, only to overhear several senior managers talk about their back and joint aches over lunch. I’ve noticed that a few of them had an arched back and poor postures as they sat together. So there I was, listening, and then I came up with a brilliant idea for my new blog post. To those who have office jobs or a sedentary lifestyle, you can benefit from this post immensely. Believe it or not, there’s a relationship between poor posture, back and joint problems and your muscle mobility at the gym.

Challenge: Try to maintain proper posture as you’re reading this. You should look like you’re doing a wall sit.

Having an office job makes it easy for us to fall into poor postures and hence affect us in the long run. It’s no wonder that I keep hearing 23 year olds complain about lower back ache (I complained about that for a while too). A poor posture can be defined as shortening or tightening of muscles as a result of our daily activities (such as sitting in a wrong position). Maintaining correct alignment of your body while seated and when you’re exercising is very important. My gym instructor keeps telling me that correct posture is far more important than speed, I mean, most athletes pay attention to proper posture during exercise but take a look at how you’re sitting right now, are you maintaining a proper posture?

Think about it, your body adapts to literally anything you give it, when you’re sitting in a poor posture (shoulders forward, curved spine, etc), your body adapts to this and your muscles begin tightening and in a few years you see yourself with an arched back and you start wondering what happened. Thing is, even if you work out for an hour with good posture but you maintain poor posture throughout your day.. It WILL affect how your muscles move. You’ll feel uncomfortable and won’t be able to go through the whole workout with full range of motion (trust me I know!). Basically, if you just pay attention to your posture during all times.. It will make wonders to how your body moves. 

Challenge Check-in: Did you maintain that posture? 

To sum up, working on your posture takes time, be patient and keep reminding yourself to maintain that posture.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Sitting Disease

I’m finally back after a short gateway to Dubai, and I have made a huge discovery – even though I was aware of it way before but I had the chance to look at it closely now and see how it truly affects us all. This major discovery is known as “The Sitting Disease” or “Sedentary Lifestyle.”

Think about it, you’re driving 30 minutes to your office job where you spend at least seven hours sitting. You’re back home, on the couch, watching some television. Later, you’d have some lunch or dinner… and you would do that, sitting. Oh and you’re probably sitting in a chair reading this blog post. If this looks a lot like your lifestyle then you’re suffering from “The Sitting Disease.” 

You see, the human body is made to move.  Unfortunately, our modern lifestyle demands us to spend 7+ hours sitting when in fact, our bodies have not evolved to adapt. Studies have shown that when you sit more, you increase your risk of diabetes, obesity and cancer.  It seems to me that the more I sit, the more I feel tired and the more I move, the less I feel tired. It’s a simple equation, move more throughout the day = feel more energetic. During my last trip to Dubai, I was on constant movement and even though I indulged in desserts, fast food and sugary drinks, I still managed to drop one kilo. This was an eye opening experience as it showed me how moving throughout the day makes all the difference in the world. 

To all of you who have a sedentary lifestyle (including me)… Here are some tips to reverse this: 

1. Take a 5 minute walk for every hour you spend at work
2. Walk when you're on the phone
3. The stairs are there for a reason. Use them!
4. Start a fitness routine and be consistent.
5. Stand up and move more... Little things add up.  

 It’s no wonder that ever since I started my office job, I’ve been piling on pounds even though my eating habits have remained the same. Hope this post gives you hope like it did to me!  

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Giving up Dieting

[Before reading this blog post, I just want to let my readers know that I’m neither a certified nutritionist nor a doctor. Therefore, whatever advice I give is solely based on my experience. If you want to seek medical help this is not the place. I’m only sharing my personal insights.] 

I’m ecstatic; I’m finally back at the gym after one month filled with setbacks. After my endless attempts in Ramadan to control my binge urges, I just gave up because I told myself that it’s okay to binge eat as it is only temporary and will end after this month – I know, terrible excuses I keep giving myself. The most important thing right now is that I truly lost all my excuses and I’ve been working hard for the past two weeks. I already got a few compliments on how radiant I look and guess what? I did all that by NOT starving... Just eating according to my goals and working out.

This got me to a really important issue that I’ve been noticing in young adults and that is; distorted image of what “dieting” and “proper nutrition” truly are. Approximately 3 out of 10 young adults that I come across are on extreme starvation diets, their diets basically consist of one big meal per day or eating too little calories throughout the day. I honestly don’t know how they do it. It’s so hard for me to starve myself and it opens huge binge doors for me. Sure, those of you who are on extreme starvation diets will lose weight but you’ll also experience hunger pangs, decreased energy, hair loss, mood swings and many physical effects related to specific nutrition deficiencies. 

Starving never works simply because of our survival instincts. Our survival instincts are our inherited properties to behave in a way that maximize our chances of survival. They are extremely powerful and respond when one or more of our basic biological needs are not met (such as hunger). Basically, when you’re starving, your survival instincts are activated because it senses a threat to survival. Dieting is against human nature and our brain (survival instincts) will fight back. Then, the body’s metabolism slows down and the body does everything it can to conserve energy. It seems as though our survival instincts aim to aggressively convince us to eat. This is why people who starve eventually give up and gain all the weight back (probably even more). 

As for me, I gave up dieting. It takes so much energy to stress about food and I have a wedding coming up. I’m not dieting; I’m on a healthy eating (and fitness) journey.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Dealing with Setbacks in your Life

So much for “losing the last 5 kilos by the end of Ramadan,” I had vowed not to binge eat during Ramadan as a means of finally achieving my goals of stopping binge eating. If I hadn’t experienced these strong binge urges; I would have never believed that such strong urges for something so irrelevant and irrational actually exist and I wouldn’t have believed that simply saying no to these binge urges and convincing my brain logically does no good, either. 

I’ve been experiencing a lot of setbacks during Ramadan. I had always been a person who made conscious choices about every aspect in my life, but giving in to my binge urges always made me feel like a failure. Because of that, my goals for Ramadan had changed from “losing the last 5 kilos” to maintaining my weight the way it was before Ramadan. This major setback has inspired me to write a new post on how I deal with setbacks and take control over my life again. 

The first thing I would do is take full responsibility of what I’ve done. This means that I should accept the bloated feeling and puffy cheeks (I always get them the day after a strong binge!). I should also accept the temporary weight gain. By acknowledging this, it helps me start my transformation and believe that there’s another face to a setback which is being a stronger person. 

Next, I eliminate all negative self-talk by venting out all the bad energy at the gym and then I remind myself that I need to give my body time to lose the weight and get back on track. Basically, I just need to acknowledge these few steps before I take control over my life again:
1. Take full responsibility
2. Eliminate negative self-talk
3. Patience 

I’m dealing with a challenge right now but this is where I’m at and I choose not to be a victim of this. Nobody’s immune to setbacks. A wise man once said: “Fall seven times. Stand up eight.”