Wednesday, September 27, 2017

I Worked Out for 30 Days and This is What I Learned

Last month, I started working out again. I had gained back some of the weight I lost before the wedding and I felt lethargic from being in the house all the time. I also knew I had to start taking care of myself to prepare my body once Jay and I decide on having kids. But I'll be honest with you. My reason for wanting to work out and lose weight was this:

I wanted my thighs to stop chafing. 

It may sound simple to many of you. I know I can just wear cycling shorts or half slips underneath my skirts/dresses. I know I can put baby powder and/or lotion to reduce friction between my thighs, even put deodorant. I tried these, but thigh chafing has been bugging me for a long time. I would see other ladies who are the same size (sometimes even bigger) as I am, and watch in awe as they walk in shorts and skirts and dresses seemingly without a care in the world or the chafing between their thighs. I would wonder whether they're wearing something underneath that allows them to walk comfortably. And I would scratch my head when I prove they aren't. Hoooow?!

So instead of suffering and wondering all the time, I decided to hit two birds with one stone and just start working out. I would lose weight, and I would get rid of thigh chafing in the process. Easy peasy!

One Day or Day One. Choose wisely!

Not. I knew the challenge was to KEEP WORKING OUT. Like many good habits I tried to form in the past (applying body lotion every night before sleeping, dry body brushing, eating healthy), I would end up pumped with adrenaline in the beginning, usually the first three days, then fizzle out by the fourth day. So this was my short-term goal: to keep going beyond day 4. I didn't know if I could do it, in fact I highly doubted it, but here I am 30 days later and I'm still at it!

I only exercised during the weekdays, so that's 5 times a week. There were a couple of days I missed so I made up for them by either doubling my workout the next day, or working out even on a Saturday. I also started slow. I searched for beginner workouts on YouTube, and did those that were 10 minutes or less. Gradually, I increased my time and the intensity of my workouts. Sometimes I would do a 10-min HIIT workout with 20 minutes of yoga. Or sometimes I would do a 5-min standing arm workout coupled with a 30-min Zumba session. When I couldn't do some of the movements, I would modify them, but I kept moving. 

I love High Intensity Interval Workouts (HIIT). According to Shape Magazine, HIIT refers to any "workout that alternates between intense bursts of activity and fixed periods of less-intense activity or even complete rest." Most of these workouts involve cardio exercises, so it will get you sweating in no time. These workouts are best for people who love to say they don't have time to exercise. HIIT workouts are fast, convenient, and there are no equipment necessary. Best of all, they work. Researches have shown that short HIIT workouts are better than spending an hour at the treadmill. If you're really pressed for time, you can even work out for 4 minutes using the Tabata protocol!

Now I will start to introduce weight training to my routine as well. This is to tone my muscle and also help in burning fat. 

There's a saying that motivation is what gets you started and habit is what keeps you going. That proved true for me. I had my why, and I kept going because eventually my body became used to working out, and my mind became conditioned to include a workout for a complete weekday. But I also learned the importance of having rest days and listening to your body. I skipped a workout once because I lacked sleep and knew not to push myself. 

I weighed myself when I started and also measured my waist, hips, and thighs. I was told sometimes you'd see no weight loss but find it on the tape measure. Thirty days in, my progress is slow but sure. I lost four pounds, one inch each on my waist and hips, and half an inch on my right thigh. I am satisfied with my progress but also know I can do more. 

How? By eating better. I admit I had a hard time saying no to carbs and fast food and my kind of sweets (a.k.a. cakes and pastries). I saw the difference when I substituted rice with kamote for dinner for a week. I lost two pounds. Then I gained them back the following week. I also plateaued by week 4. Are you working out and not losing weight too? This article provides possible reasons why.

What was my biggest surprise during the last 30 days? I discovered I could hold a plank longer than I thought! One day I took a video of myself planking and was ready to stop at 20 seconds. I always found it hard to hold a plank, my body shakes and my body just gives up. But that day, I was shocked I held it for 45 seconds! I know, it's still under a minute, but if you knew how physically weak I am, that's a big achievement. So I slowly kept increasing my time after that and I am now up to the minute mark. One day I will do two minutes, just watch me!

I don't know why my site cut the video to under 45 seconds. 

Here are three workouts that I find most effective. I am so happy for discovering free workouts, because paying for a gym membership is way low on my priorities. I also love that these workouts involve the barest of equipment (just a mat!), and can be done anywhere. 

This video is from the Emi Wong's StayFitandTravel Youtube Channel. This is what I did on my first day of working out and it was perfect. I ended up subscribing to her channel. I love her workouts because I feel the burn and sweat starts dripping on my mat a few minutes in. Most of her workouts also require no equipment and she modifies them for beginners. It helps whenever she says "I know it's hard but remember, I am doing it with you. No pain no gain!" Haha. It's true though. Pain means it's working!

I discovered Tracy Campoli's workouts when I searched "standing arm workout no equipment" on YouTube. That's really my main criteria, so I'll have no excuse not to do them. You can do this while watching your favorite KDrama, while waiting for your dinner to cook, even at the office when you're itching to get out of your cubicle. Work those arms instead of stressing out on your deadline!

And finally, this one's for my thighs! Ooh when I did this workout I was so sore the next day. But I loved it. It's from the POPSUGAR Fitness YouTube channel. They have short-but-effective sets. One of my favorites also is this 5-Minute Standing Flat Belly Workout. 

I made my Instagram stories the daily repository of my fitness journey. That way there's some sort of accountability to stay focused and not get lazy. Follow me for video recs and hopefully meal planning in the future too!

Do you have fitness and workout tips for me? Leave them in the comments and let's work out together!

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