Monday, March 2, 2015

Project #GetFit

It's been a while since I updated this space and since I've been getting requests about fitness and how it all started for me, I think it's a good time to share. There are issues which I feel very strongly about and may end up ranting, so please pardon me :>

"So skinny already, you don't need to exercise!" I get this a lot, and it goes to show the number of people who still do not understand the purpose of exercise. I don't exercise to lose weight, I'm slim enough (avoiding the term "skinny" because so many people use it in a negative tone) – in fact, I would like to gain some more weight if that's even possible for me. 
I exercise because I'm sick of having people tell me that I'm too skinny. 
I exercise because I'm annoyed when people underestimate my strength (I have moved more than 40kg worth of baggage from London to Glasgow all by myself via public transport). 
I exercise because I don't want to be a regular at the doctors' (I don't remember the last time I stepped into a clinic and I'd like to keep it that way).
I exercise because I don't want my joints to degenerate when I'm older. 
I exercise because I want to be super fit and super strong for as long as I am alive. 
I could go on forever, but lastly (let's get real), I exercise because I want to look good in anything I wear (or don't wear lol). 

I may not look it, but I have always been quite a sporty person. At 7, I traded ballet slippers for taekwondo belts and left the sport with a brown belt after 5 years (I still regret not completing my brown-black and junior black). At 14, I quit dance for tennis and participated in yearly runs, jumps and swim meets in school, making sure I won at least a bronze medal for every breaststroke/relay event. After graduating from secondary school, I was pretty much leading a sedentary lifestyle – eating, drinking, partying.

In September 2013, I figured that I should do something with my life. I had always wanted to be super flexible, so I thought, why not start yoga and maybe I'd be flexible enough to progress to adult ballet after (ballet had always been my lifelong dream)? The common misconception is that you have to be flexible to do yoga – nope, you do yoga to be flexible. Trust me, with my gangly arms and legs, I was the most inflexible person alive. I couldn't do a split (still can't). I could not touch my toes standing or sitting (still a daily struggle for me to fold forward comfortably) – my sit and reach always pulled me down. The only thing I had was arm strength from years of swimming and tennis. I was 40kg and had never been heavier than 41kg.

This was about 6 months into yoga and I practiced twice a week.

Then I put on 7kg of what seemed like flab + maybe a bit of muscle mass. I don't weigh myself regularly because I don't see the need to. Numbers don't bother me because weight does not equate to progress, progress is when I see definition in the mirror. 

To illustrate:

 I found out about the weight gain when I could not fit into the shorts I had brought along to wear after yoga and ended up having to buy a skirt from H&M. I was 47kg then and was not pleased (because I could tell that it was flab).

I clocked in more workout hours and switched to an unlimited yoga membership. I practiced thrice a week and went to the gym twice a week.

In about 3 months, I felt like I was at my fittest thus far, with a fat percentage of 15.4%. 

Then I lost muscle mass when I stopped going to the gym. My workout then was purely yoga because I had no interest in gymming and no discipline to push myself in the gym, especially when I went alone. 

When I went to London for my internship, I exercised a grand total of 5 times over 6 months because I was busy studying, working and travelling. When I came home, I returned to my yoga practice thrice a week and was at 9.3% fat :')

After curriculum officially ended for me, I joined Lululemon and that's when things started to get sweatyyyy. We'd try out different workouts everyday, sometimes twice, thrice or even four times a day. (These are voluntary by the way, the company does not force us to go work out).

I now practice yoga, crossfit and spin regularly, and the strength gained from these workouts really help me hold my weight in pole. I still do have plenty to work on though, especially when it comes to my lower body (my legs are really weak). 

On a final note, here are some tips that I hope will serve as a motivation to work out, AND enjoy yourself while at it.

1) Find like-minded people who will work out with you.
When I used to go to the gym or go for classes alone, I had little motivation. Because I did not make plans with anyone to go for a workout together, I could skip class and sleep in instead. On the other hand, if you had already made plans with someone to hit the gym, you cannot bail last minute (well, you could but you'd be a horrible friend if you did it consistently). 
It's all about encouraging one another when you're working out too. A timely example: I usually go for yoga at True alone, where I'm a member. But my colleague and I agreed to try out a class at Pure and I left it to her to do the booking. She booked an advanced class and I panicked – I had never been to an advanced class because I was always afraid to attend it alone. The class was basically handstand variations for a good portion of the 90min class, where we were spurring each other on throughout and helping each other get into the poses. I'm so glad I attended a class (and with a friend!) that pushed my limits because I don't feel like taking an intermediate class anymore!
It's even more fun if you can find a whole group of friends to workout with – everyone could do with a little competition, especially in a crossfit box.  

2) Find a diet that works for you.
And by diet, I don't mean Atkins or South Beach – fad diets do not work in the long run. I have neither been on a diet nor have I counted my calories, macros etc. If I know that I can afford it (ie: I'll be working it off), I will eat that chocolate cake, and I will inhale those almond cookies. If I know that I'll be having a mean steak for dinner, I will enjoy my tofu soup for lunch. It's all about balancing out at the end of the day. I try to consume the right about of protein, fruits and vegetables each day, though I do admit that I don't consume enough protein because I'm not a fan of meat. Sometimes I supplement my lack of protein intake with a protein shake after a workout. If I feel like I'm lacking fibre, I make sure to grab a green juice. I personally feel that white rice makes me bloat, so I have made the switch to brown rice at home or wherever available outside (it's also packed with fibre, which we all need!). 

3) Find a workout that you enjoy
I LOVE Jade's Vinyasa classes at True Yoga because her flow variations are insane and there's always an arm balance and an inversion.
I LOVE spinning at CruCycle because the remixes are sick and it always feels like I'm at a dance party (it's not only spinning btw, it's a whole body workout because Cru uses weights to tone your arms and abs as you spin)
I LOVE Crossfit Firecity because Sam's workouts are always painful, but the atmosphere and competition makes it fun. Here's a glimpse of what we do at Firecity since many have been asking me about crossfit:

WOD = Workout of the day
AMRAP 12 = As many rounds as possible in 12mins
I don't think I even completed one and a half sets for this. Probably one of the toughest workouts I've done!

My favourite workouts are the ones where timings get taken at the end ^ because it makes the competition more fun :>

4) Stop making excuses!
"It's easier for you to get abs because you're skinny." "You can lift your own body weight because you're so light." Is it really true? Slimmer people cannot lift as heavy as bigger-sized people because we don't have as much strength to begin with. If anything, we have to train harder to gain all that strength. Your size is relatively proportionate to your strength, so a person who is 60kg would be able to lift his/her weight if he/she puts in the effort.
Legs too short to lift higher in dancer's pose, you say? At least you can fold forward with your head touching your shin.
Legs too long and you can't place your palms on the floor in a standing forward fold, you say (I admit I often grumble about this when I get frustrated with myself)? At least sitting in lotus is easier for you.
Bottom line: you win some, you lose some. Note to self: stop complaining and work on strength so you can rely on your strength, not your "assets", to help you enter the poses.


  1. So how did you manage to find your workout buddies?

    1. Through work :) I'm also lucky to have a group of #fitspo (lol) close friends who share videos and fitness motivations with me!

  2. Are you working as a lululemon educator ?

    1. How did you become a lululemon educator? Are there part time jobs at lululemon?

  3. Can I join you at crossfit?

  4. Hi collette! Can I know if you have suggestions for a fitness centre to join? Thanks!

    1. Hi Anon! I'd recommend Pure or Virgin active because of their facilities and excellent teachers. If you're on a budget, I hear Fitness First is not bad too.

  5. is this an advertorial.

    1. To promote what product exactly...? Haha, nope it's not.

  6. Can you reply the comments, collette?

    1. I don't check my comments often, so please feel free to drop me an email should you have an urgent query :)

  7. Hi collette ! Do you still go for crossfit? I'm afraid to go on my own. And where do you usually practice yoga?

    1. Yes I still do! You can drop me an email if you're interested in going for crossfit :) I practice yoga mainly at True because I'm a member there, but I do visit Yoga Movement and HOM Yoga etc.

  8. Hi collette! What are the workouts usually at crossfit? Do they cater to your body weight? And will it make you buffer?

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  10. hey!

    No idea how I chanced upon your blog when searching for "yoga photos" for a post I was writing but I'm so glad I did. I can totally TOTALLY relate to what you're talking about regarding the skinny comment and people asking why i EXERCISE when I'm already so skinny as though the intention with exercise is to "lose weight". Ironically, as you probably know - its 80% nutrition and 20% exercise -so even exercising non stop won't do anything with a poor diet. That said, then, exercise should be for what you pointed out above - to stay fit, to thrive, to get in touch with your body, community, enjoyment, etc. Not to punish or destroy but to build and thrive. There's so much more I have to say cos its something I am so passionate about given I'm often on the receiving end of such comments as well. Looking forward to reading more of your posts!

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