Wednesday, September 4, 2013

MONTH1 of SOARIN365: MY JOURNEY TO WELLNESS – Shedding off the Excess Baggage

We are all on a journey called life. We all have the free will to choose how we live out our journey. I have consciously chosen to live a delicious life. But in the past two years I realized my downward spiral struggle with my weight. Unhappy with some aspects of my life, I turned to food. It is easy to confuse fear, frustration, loneliness, boredom, and feeling overwhelmed with hunger. Emotion after emotion, the weight piled up. While I continued to be blessed with wonderful trips last year, I didn’t like looking at myself in the photos.

I love to travel, and I see myself continuing to revel in the world for the rest of my life. But I can’t travel with this excess baggage weighing me down. I longed to shed off the pounds. I wanted to look good in my clothes again. More importantly, I wanted to be my fittest and strongest self as I conquer the world. I decided the first month of PROJECT:SOARIN365 to focus on my health & wellness. I can’t continue to travel around the world and to live my dreams until I become fit, strong, and healthy.

I had always intimidated by gyms. Many years ago, I joined Fitness First and only stepped foot in the gym three times. All I got from my membership was a free towel and water bottle. For P8,000 (for the annual membership then), that was the most expensive towel I’ve ever purchased. I keep the towel as a reminder of my failed gym investment. I signed up for a gym membership in September 2011, and started going to the gym when it opened in January 2012. Only a five-minute walk from my flat, I had no excuse not to hit the gym. But I still managed to find my excuses. I did attend Zumba classes I enjoyed, but still the weight was not dropping. I renewed my gym membership last June. This time, I vowed it will be different. And I’ve kept my commitment to exercise regularly, to finally conquer weight training (those machines intimidate me) and to eat right. My goal is not simply to lose weight, but to become stronger than I had ever been. I know I have it in me, that deep inside me there’s a strong woman.
On Day31- Smiling & Sweaty after 2 Zumba Classes

I stepped on the scale this morning, and I’ve lost 8.4lbs so far since I started taking my health seriously in June. I lost 4.4lbs of that in August. It is less than I wish to have lost, but I got the flu. For a week, I did not hit the gym and my trainer took it easy the week after to let my body recover. I am still happy with the weight loss. But what I am more excited about is getting stronger. I can endure longer cardio, longer time at treadmill, carry heavier weights, and the machines in the gym don’t intimidate me as much. Even if I don’t like to at times, I follow what my trainer says. I make faces. I complain I’m hungry. But I still do it. I even admit, when the load is too light.

So here are lessons I learned in this wellness journey thus far:

1.    Find an Exercise You Love
I never considered myself a dancer. I would always say I have two left feet. But guess what? I tried Zumba in 2011, I fell in love with it. In my first class, I wondered if I can survive all 55 minutes of it. I did. It was so much fun, I felt like I was part of a Flash Mob. I found teachers I loved in Gold’s Gym, Alex and Paolo. I attended their classes, initially to lose weight. But I found myself happier too on days I attended Zumba. As one older classmate says, “It’s my Happy Hour.” With the latin beats, the hips gyrating, the jumps, happy colored outfits, and my flamboyant teachers, the endorphins were naturally released. I was happy. Find something you enjoy doing so much that you crave doing it. I became a groupie attending the classes of these two Zumba Instructors I loved. But later, I attended other classes, then I realized I do enjoy dancing. Because I enjoy Zumba, I can easily do seven classes a week.

My Zumba classmate's happy dancing shoes!

2.    Find Fitness Buddies
On September 2012, I had to attend a conference. I realized all my clothes were tight. I lamented my weight problem to my friend, Ned. He told me, “Come, box with me.” I had tried boxing before and found myself dizzy and out of breathe after a few minutes. I gave boxing a try with Ned and our trainer, Jojo. It was not intimidating for we did the boxing sessions in the gym in Ned’s Condo. It was not a hardcore, testosterone-filled gym, instead the treadmill looked out to pool. My attempts at the jump rope made Ned laugh since I looked like I was skipping rope at the schoolyard during recess time. Jojo let me hit the treadmill instead. I needed gloves, and when asked what color I wanted I said, “Hot Pink or Orange!!” Both Ned and Jojo were shocked. No hot pink or orange boxing gloves, but I got cheerful yellow ones. I did not like Boxing in the beginning. But I still showed up for I got to see Ned, and we got to chat, laugh, and groan together during the ab workout. From only completing two round of boxing, I progressed to eight rounds of boxing. Having a friend who supports and encourages you to get fit is a treasure. He’s there to cheer me on, and to share in the joys of every pound lost.

Trying out Boxing for the first time last September.

Thanks to my friend, Ned, boxing became fun and is no longer intimidating!

3.    Meet up with Friends to Exercise instead of Eating Out
“Let’s meet up for lunch or dinner,” I often say to Rissa, my dear friend since fourth grade. If you are like me, catching up with friends means eating out. In June I invited Rissa to join me in a three-hour Zumba concert. She gamely agreed. We had fun dancing, laughing, and burning calories. She recently asked me, “You want to do a 5k together?” So we signed up for a 5K run. Unfortunately, the run was full, and we have to look for another one to join.  We invite each other to try new classes. It is a great way to meet up and get fit.  And when we do eat out, we are also more mindful of what we eat and when we cheat.

4.    Eat Mindfully
I’ve tried the Cabbage Soup Diet, the GM Diet, South Beach Diet... This is what I’ve learned: there is NO SHORTCUT to losing weight. I was told diet accounts for 70% of weight loss. For the past two months, I ate mindfully. I stay away from rice, pasta, cakes, and limit my intake of sweets. I eat as much fruits and vegetables as I want. When I eat meat, I eat lean meat. I limit my intake of fried food. But I do allow myself, one daily treat of chocolate. On weekends, I allow myself to cheat. For snacks, I’ve discovered boiled Saba (similar to plantain bananas) are sweet, filling, and travel well on-the-go. Nuts, eggs, yogurt are my other reliable snacks. Avocadoes are make my salads more enjoyable. Variety is the spice of life. Shake things up with your meals to keep you on the healthy path.

Prepare healthy meals
Choose one day as your cheat day to indulge in your cravings! 

Make healthy choices when you eat out, like going for vegetarian kare-kare & brown rice

5.    Ask for Help
I was afraid of the gym for this simple reason: I don’t know how to use the machines. Everyone seems to know their way around the gym except for me. So I finally hired a trainer to teach me what to do.  He tells me what to do and I follow. I know food and travel well, but am clueless with exercise. So having an expert helps. The best news is, after a month, the gym equipment no longer intimidates me. We are now properly acquainted. Now my test is doing the routine on my own, without my trainer watching my every move.

Getting a Trainer helped me get started... He taught me how to use RIP60

6.    Drink Lots of Water
I drink a lot of coffee (up to three cups a day). But I don’t drink enough water throughout the day.  Have a water bottle with you all the time. Add a lemon to make it more refreshing, and is said to help in digestion. Choose water instead of juices and health drinks, which are filled with calories.

7.    Push, push, push your limits and REPEAT!
I found this on Facebook at the beginning of the month. “You will never know your limits until you push yourself to them.” There are times when I wanted to give up. When my feet are tired on the treadmill or dancing, but then I realized I still had more energy in me. Tell yourself five more minutes. Before you know it, you’ve completed the task. There is so much exhilaration in knowing seeing it through. One night, I joined a Street Dance class. Unsatisfied with the teacher, I stayed on for another class with a different teacher. Tired, I was temped to walk out mid-way. But I stuck on, and enjoyed myself. The best high is doing the thing you think you cannot do.

The secret is there is no secret to losing weight... only hard work! 

I realize 8.4lbs is about half the weight of a Carry-on bag allowed in the airplane. My clothes fit better. Several months ago, I stopped wearing some blouses as they were too tight. I can now wear them again. Without that excess weight, I can move lighter, freer, and I also the smiling happy face looking back at me at gym mirror. 
    Something has changed within me. It is no longer just about losing the weight. It is about becoming my healthiest self. We spend money investing in our homes. But I realized our body is the home we have till the end of our lives. It is about time to invest time, money, and energy in making it healthy. 

More importantly, I have a newfound appreciation for the human body. It is a pretty amazing thing! I now revel at what my body can do, and live each day exploring that. 

Being deliciously alive now means being stronger and healthier!

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1 comment:

  1. Hi Maida
    great article and congrats on your progress! I agree that its not about the pounds so much as the way you feel; stronger, lighter and happier. The weight loss will follow. The key is the lifestyle change, from a 'sitter' to a 'mover'!


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