Melissa C. Koh

Blog posts

Baby Steps To Getting Fit

Fitness

One of the most regularly asked questions is “how do you stay so fit?”. To be brutally honest here, I am NOT super fit, or rather, not as fit as I used to be. I always attribute my current physical appearance to “reaping benefits of the past”. I used to be extremely active back in school. I was a Rhythmic Gymnast at one point and then a competitive cheerleader in University. At this point, I don’t have the luxury of time to workout as much as I’d love to but whenever I have a free slot in my schedule, I will try to check if there is a class going on at Box Office Fitness (before my pregnancy) or WeBarre. Classes are my favourite because I find it the most productive– I get so much done in that short period of time and there is someone breathing down your neck to ensure that you’re not slacking and doing things in the best possible form. Before getting pregnant, on very rare occasions, James and I will go on a run around the neighbourhood or take a brisk walk to our supper destination instead of drive. During that time, we also take the chance to spend quality time with each other.

I won’t list down all the benefits of working out, but it’s good for everyone to move away from a sedentary lifestyle. Today’s article is with the hopes to inspire you to put on your pair of shoes and get out of the house. Once you’re dressed and out, everything works for your good from that point on. I am currently 5 months pregnant and I’ve yet to figure out how I can best motivate myself to stay in shape. But before this baby came about, I made a mental note at one point to share some simple steps on how you can take to transform your lifestyle and become fitter.

1. KNOW WHAT YOU WANT (AND WHAT WORKS FOR YOU)

What are you exercising for? Is it to build muscle, or to lose weight? Is it to tick off that bucket list of running a full marathon? Know your end goals, and take small steps to work towards it. Having a goal helps you stay focused and it’s a way for you to keep track of your progress too.

Also, find exercises that suit you best and you enjoy. Whether you are a cardio person or a yoga person, there is no one-size-fits-all workout. Depending on your exercise goals, you should select an activity that will help you edge toward your goal. If it is to lose weight, then turn to cardio and strength training. If you’re looking for endurance, I swear by cross fit. If it is to build muscles, weights are a definite must.

Even then, there are many different cardio options such as swimming, running and cycling. If you prefer a full body workout, then maybe swimming is for you. Or if you enjoy the feeling of your feet hitting the ground then go for a run!

I personally enjoy playing badminton with James and I cannot wait to get back to it post-pregnancy!

2. FIND YOUR OWN ROUTINE

Some people prefer working out first thing in the morning, so they can get it out of the way and they feel that it wakes them up. While some others find it more enjoyable to work out at night or after work because they simply cannot get up in the morning. Whatever it is, do what works for you best.
The point here is: make exercising a habit by incorporating an activity into part of your daily routine. It could be as simple as climbing up the flight of stairs instead of taking the elevator. This could be a great start to getting fitter!

3. MIND OVER BODY

Now that you’ve found your routine, stick to it. Day 1 is always the hardest but I promise, it will get better. The best athletes went through years and years of training and practice before they got to where they are now. So with your goals in sight, having a strong will will lead you to achieving them. Remember that changes do not happen overnight, and you need to stick through your routine so that you will improve. It will all be so gratifying once you get to the end of the road.

4. DONT LIMIT YOURSELF

Try new things! Maybe your local gym is offering a new pilates class, or a friend has raved about that body pump class. While you have your goals in sight, it’s also important to have fun and enjoy yourself. If you enjoy the workout, it makes working out so much easier.

5. GO SLOW

If you’re just starting out, don’t go all the way. It’s the same as when you start up a car, it doesn’t go from 0 to 60km/h immediately so take it slow. Time is needed to build up stamina and strength and really it’s quality over quantity, when it comes to exercising. 

If you can’t run 5km immediately, start with 1km, then increase it once you’re comfortable. Attempting to run a 5km immediately will result in a burn out before you even know it. For yoga on the other hand, you need to go slow to ensure that your postures are right and that you’ve mastered the basics before you move on to do the harder stuff. Without the proper form, you can injure yourself easily and that is probably the last thing you want when you’re trying to get out of a sedentary lifestyle.

Also, your body needs time to recuperate from the previous workout so it’s better to be realistic and schedule your workout accordingly. Give your body the break it deserves.

6. GET A BUDDY

Ever felt compelled to go out, although you’re not really feeling it, because you’ve promised to meet a friend for dinner? Oh, the power of accountability. When you have someone to workout with, it puts the fun in exercise. But also, there will be someone to hold you accountable if you decide that a night in on Thursday with your cat Remy will be better than going on your scheduled run.

7. WATCH YOUR DIET

No amount of exercise will be enough if you are consuming more than your body actually needs. Watch out for the hidden sugars in many of the processed products you find in supermarkets. Or the can of coke that is so inviting when you’ve just completed a run and need a cold bubbly drink – dump it. Sugars are the greatest nemesis of a healthy lifestyle. 

Eat as many natural and whole foods as you can. That’s not saying that you have to eat salads for every meal, but go for the healthier option that’s available. For example, instead of ordering that fried buttermilk chicken, go for grilled chicken breast instead.

8. PERSEVERE

Last but not least… Don’t give up just because you haven’t seen significant changes. Everything takes time and what seems impossible will be a breeze after a while. And even if you’ve attained your initial goals, continue working out because you can only get better from here. Hopefully before you know it, this “workout routine” would have turned into a lifestyle, and your goals are no longer goals but achievements that you will have to sustain! 🙂

I always get a lot of comments and messages asking what my fitness routine is, or how I manage to stay so slim despite eating so much. To tell the truth, I don’t have the luxury of time to workout as much as I’d love to but whenever I have a free slot in my schedule, I will try to check if there is a class going on at Box Office Fitness or We Barre. Classes are my favourite because you get so much done in that short period of time and there is a professional around to guide you in case your form is off. (Very) occasionally, James and I will go on a run around the neighbourhood but our hard work usually goes down the drain right after because we will head to grab supper. Other than that, on my secrets to staying slim…I think I am lucky to have a rather high metabolism rate from all those years of gymnastics and cheerleading, which were pretty intensive sports I would say.

I won’t list down all the benefits of working out, but it’s good for everyone to move away from a sedentary lifestyle. Especially white-collar workers who sit at their desks from 9-6 everyday. Here are some baby steps you can take to transform your lifestyle and become fitter.

1. KNOW WHAT YOU WANT (AND WHAT WORKS FOR YOU)

What are you exercising for? Is it to build muscle, or to lose weight? Is it to tick off that bucket list of running a full marathon? Know your end goals, and take small steps to work towards it. Having a goal helps you stay focused and it’s a way for you to keep track of your progress too.

Also, find exercises that suit you best and you enjoy. Whether you are a cardio person or a yoga person, there is no one size fits all workout. Depending on your exercise goals, you should select an activity that will help you edge toward your goal. If it is to lose weight, then turn to cardio and strength training.

Even then, there are many different cardio options such as swimming, running and cycling. If you prefer a full body workout, then maybe swimming is for you. Or if you enjoy the feeling of your feet hitting the ground then go for a run!

2. FIND YOUR OWN ROUTINE

Some people prefer working out first thing in the morning, so they can get it out of the way and they feel that it wakes them up. While some others find it more enjoyable to work out at night or after work because they simply cannot get up in the morning. Whatever it is, do what works for you best. You don’t want to be walking into the office looking like a dishevelled zombie.

3. MIND OVER BODY

Now that you’ve found your routine, stick to it. Day 1 is always the hardest but I promise, it will get better. The best athletes went through years and years of training and practice before they got to where they are now. So with your goals in sight, having a strong will will lead you to achieving them. Remember that changes do not happen overnight, and you need to stick through your routine so that you will improve. It will all be so gratifying once you get to the end of the road.

4. DONT LIMIT YOURSELF

Try new things! Maybe your local gym is offering a new pilates class, or a friend has raved about that body pump class. While you have your goals in sight, it’s also important to have fun and enjoy yourself. If you enjoy the workout, it makes working out so much easier.

5. GO SLOW

If you’re just starting out, don’t go all the way. It’s the same as when you start up a car, it doesn’t go from 0 to 60km/h immediately so take it slow. Time is needed to build up stamina and strength and really it’s quality over quantity, when it comes to exercising. 

If you can’t run 5km immediately, start with 1km, then increase it once you’re comfortable. Attempting to run a 5km immediately will result in a burn out before you even know it. For yoga on the other hand, you need to go slow to ensure that your postures are right and that you’ve mastered the basics before you move on to do the harder stuff. Without the proper form, you can injure yourself easily and that is probably the last thing you want when you’re trying to get out of a sedentary lifestyle.

Also, your body needs time to recuperate from the previous workout so it’s better to be realistic and schedule your workout accordingly. Give your body the break it deserves.

6. GET A BUDDY

Ever felt compelled to go out, although you’re not really feeling it, because you’ve promised to meet a friend for dinner? Oh, the power of accountability. When you have someone to workout with, it puts the fun in exercise. But also, there will be someone to hold you accountable if you decide that a night in on Thursday with your cat Remy will be better than going on your scheduled run.

7. WATCH YOUR DIET

No amount of exercise will be enough if you are consuming more than your body actually needs. Watch out for the hidden sugars in many of the processed products you find in supermarkets. Or the can of coke that is so inviting when you’ve just completed a run and need a cold bubbly drink – dump it. Sugars are the greatest nemesis of a healthy lifestyle. 

Eat as many natural and whole foods as you can. That’s not saying that you have to eat salads for every meal, but go for the healthier option that’s available. For example, instead of ordering that fried buttermilk chicken, go for grilled chicken breast instead.

8. PERSEVERE

Last but not least… Don’t give up just because you haven’t seen significant changes. Everything takes time and what seems impossible will be a breeze after a while. And even if you’ve attained your initial goals, continue working out because you can only get better from here. Hopefully before you know it, this “workout routine” would have turned into a lifestyle, and your goals are no longer goals but achievements that you will have to sustain! 🙂

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