Lifestyle habits 2020: A body transformation story to better your health and fitness stamina for the new year
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At a disconcerting age that is 27, a lot can feel stagnant after your third year of easing into the workforce and having phased out from the term 'adulting'. But not 2019. Reflecting on the last year, it was probably the most transformative year I've had since I graduated from school and peaked from my mid 20s. It was pretty great if I can say so myself.
I'll spare you the mushy spiel about self-growth as I'm sure you can easily access that from the endless thread on your Instagram feed right about now. But for as long as I can remember, I was inactive for the most part of my life. Sure, being associate lifestyle editor of Buro. Singapore did take me to a couple of gym openings and free sessions that were well spaced out throughout the year, but it could never surmount to the number of food and drink tastings I devoured — so effortlessly. Mostly, I got away with a huge bulk of body damage with a healthy metabolism (I thank my parents for this), but it could only get me so far.
Sluggish and jiggly was what I felt most days. And these were changes that people couldn't visibly see, but I knew deep down, behind closed doors, that my body was changing. Not just because I couldn't sit through a tasting without discreetly losing a jean button or that I was ashamed in well-lit changing rooms, but I constantly felt tired and suffered from lower back aches that a person in her 20s shouldn't have been going through.
But here's the thing, I didn't ring in 2019 thinking it was going to be a year of change. It was just going to be another year to me, like most years. Perhaps it was because I had my own fair share of disappointing resolutions that I discarded by the time Chinese New Year rolled around. After all, a new year really just means the end of the earth's cycle around the sun. No biggie.
I've learnt that it is the process of enduring the year that shapes you. And that's what happened to me. Somewhere in July, I just woke up thinking: "This is it. Something's got to give." I hated hating the state of myself, and I simply wanted to be better for me. And as God would so thoughtfully orchestrate, I was sent to Seoul, Korea for the launch of the Nike Joyride. A shoe that was made for reluctant runners — truly a calling intended for me. It wasn't a walk in the park though; I survived the 5km run while wheezing on the busy streets of the vibrant city with the sweet reward of feeling a llttle more worthy of the stunning kicks that I got to keep after the launch. It was also then and there that I found out that runner's high wasn't actually an absurd myth.
Step #1: Spend the money
Don't think, just commit to a package. While let it be known that fitness can be relished at no expense at all, that doesn't quite motivate an inactive individual. I had to spend the money in order to upkeep sessions — it is how consistency is developed. The upside is, it doesn't have to be a huge amount. After all, Singapore's lucky enough to have a myriad of options: ClassPass has a decent starting plan at a minimal fee, which make for good testing waters to find out what classes you enjoy. A side note though: After discovering what works for you, you might want to sign up with that gym or studio. The rates at ClassPass get higher as you wish to procure more credits, and it will just be easier and less frustrating to snag popular classes with a dedicated package.
Step #2: Find out what you enjoy
There's something for everyone, that's what I've learnt. And with the beauty of group classes, you decide how much work you want to put in with each session. For myself, yoga just wasn't it. I also hated any session that had a leaderboard, which made you pit yourself against others in the class. I enjoyed throwing a punch, scaling through mountain climbers, doing push-ups while cycling on a stationary bike, and a handful of others — at my own pace. Once you've found that, working out morphs into recreation. Which in turn, moulds your body to something more susceptible to new challenges in a huge pool of workouts made available today. Slowly but surely, the list of things you enjoy start to get longer. It's weird because you're sort of changing in a way, with your body advancing to a stronger and resilient state. For one: I wasn't a morning person before this started, but now workouts at 7am are what I prefer. You go in, get out, and then begin your day with a cuppa.
Step #3: Develop a routine
Once you've experienced step two, devising a routine is easy. I sacrificed late nights in turn for early call times sans any grimace or regrets. Which is the best thing about fitness — you regret nothing despite the aches during the morning after. And on the weekends, you get a little snooze time but incorporating a session somehow never feels like work anymore. It seamlessly integrates into your lifestyle, without you having to give up anything. I now stick to a minimum count of five to six workouts (at Ground Zero, boOm, Uppercut, Haus Athletics, and Still Boxing) per week, while switching some out to half an hour in a residence gym whenever I feel hard-pressed for time. In those self-train sessions, I replicate strength-based workouts that I have ingrained from my HIIT sessions. Plus a 2.5km run before that to get my heart rate up.
Step #4: Find a community
You don't have to necessarily find a buddy to work out with (unless that works for you), but surround yourself with like-minded people. Follow accounts on Instagram that teaches and demonstrates short easy exercises, which pose as a good reminder to maintain the progress that you've attained so far. My favourite at the moment? @mrandmrsmuscle. Exchange tips and kind words of encouragement with friends that work out, that I've found to be extremely heartening. Especially when we're binded by a common healthy end goal.
Step #5: Spur on your new self
So you're probably marginally different from where you were at step one. The good kind of different. Sure, the self that walked into 2019 might be slightly horrified to what I'm evangelising right now. But that's okay. Don't deny your current self. Right now, I feel physically stronger, mentally stronger, younger despite turning a year older, more inspired at work, and generally less of a grinch. Back pains? Banished, despite all that kettlebell lifting. I no longer feel embarrassed to rob myself of the credit because I did learn to love myself a little more through this process. Of course, with the help of professional (albeit, sometimes brutal) trainers through all of this, and my trusty pair of Nike kicks.
The best part about it, is that there is no end to this *open quote* journey *close quote*. It wasn't a dress size I was trying to drop to nor was it a six-month challenge to strike off. There's always more to be done, and you don't ever have to wait till a new year to start. Whenever you're ready that is.