My Journey to Better Health and Fitness

My Journey To Better Health and Fitness

Β© sergey ponomarenko

Y’know, I write a lot about a lot of stuff here on BA but I never thought I’d actually be writing about health and fitness. It’s not because I don’t believe in it; I mean, really, who doesn’t believe in having good health and fitness levels, right? It’s just that I’ve been leading such a sedentary lifestyle before that it feels almost hypocritical to talk the talk but not walk the walk.

About 7 weeks ago, that changed. I started exercising daily. I started to eat better. I started to drink more water. And I thought I’d share my journey with you to better health and fitness and why I embarked on it. By the way, this blog post is going to be very long and rambly so get yourself a cup of tea and I’ll meet you back here in 5. πŸ™‚

How this whole “journey” started

Rewind to a couple of months ago, I was rushing to catch a bus from the train station. The bus was probably about 50-100 metres away and as I didn’t want to wait another 15 minutes for another bus to come, I decided to make a run for it. By the time I got up the bus, I was so out of breath, I almost blacked out. And then I started hyperventilating.

I really thought for a second there and then that I was going to die.

I used to be a 100m sprinter back in high school. How did it go from being a sprinter to not being able to even run for less than that distance without feeling like I wanted to die? By the time I got home, I was so ashamed at how terribly sedentary my lifestyle has become over the years that I knew I had to do something about it. I’m 35 years old. I’m no spring chicken but I’m not very old either. Like the cliched saying on TV, it’s time I got my life back.

You want to know how sedentary my lifestyle was before? A couple of years ago, I got myself a FitBit One. I thought maybe it would get me to walk more since I have it clipped on my bra all day and it could monitor my steps. My average daily number of steps was about 2000-3000. On a good day, it could be 5000. On a very, very good day, I may even hit 10,000. I was basically walking from my bedroom to the office, to the kitchen, to the living room, to the bathroom and back to the office. If I didn’t have to walk Janey daily, I would be walking even less. Even so, I was only walking her for less than 10 minutes each time.

Needless to say, I didn’t exercise. I didn’t like exercising. I hated to sweat. I thought I’d start swimming more this year. I began with good intentions and then stopped in less than a month.

Running Shoes

I’m ready to try anything. And that includes running.

By now you’ll know that I have some issues with infertility. Now I really don’t know if my terribly low fitness levels have anything to do with it (I’m sure it doesn’t, but when you’ve been trying for so long and nothing is happening, it’s hard not to want to blame SOMETHING). When I knew I had to do something about my health and fitness levels, I thought that perhaps it could maybe even help things along in that department, y’know what I mean? I could be wrong but hey, there’s nothing wrong in hoping it would.

I don’t go to the gym but I knew I had to start somewhere so soon after that bus incident, I donned my pair of runners (which I literally purchased just to look good in. It was never intended for exercising) and I went for a brisk walk and very, very short run around my neighbourhood. I couldn’t even run half a block without feeling out of breath and getting a stitch on my side. But when I got home, it felt good. Something about running cleared my mind and it helped me focus better.

The next day, I went walking and running again. It was only a 10-15 minute walk and run and I mostly walked because I couldn’t run past 5 houses without getting out of breath. I rested for a day and did it again the next. A couple of weeks later, I downloaded the Couch 2 5K app on my phone and started a proper running program. I’ve heard about Couch 2 5K for a few years now and even though I had downloaded the app to an old phone then, I never even started Day 1.

Couch 2 5K App

The Couch 2 5K running program

If you don’t know what Couch 2 5K is, it’s a running program for beginners who have never run before, who have probably led an equally sedentary lifestyle that I had and need that kick up the backside to just start walking. It’s a 12-week program that will get you running (not just walking) 5km by the end of it.

I’ve just started Week 5. It’s getting tougher but it feels good when the run is over. Seriously good. I don’t run daily of course; it’s not recommended and I don’t want any extra stress to my knees and feet anyway. In between my running days, I’ll either take a rest day or work out at home to aerobics and yoga. There are heaps of free workout and yoga videos on YouTube for it. πŸ™‚ I’m also taking Janey for longer walks now. Instead of our usual 10-minute walk, we walk for at least 30-40 minutes.

I was very worried that this would be a “new broom sweeps clean” sort of thing, so I decided to log my exercises, daily water intake and daily steps taken into what I call my health and fitness journal (it’s just a notebook with a calendar). There’s something about putting it on paper that shows me how far I’ve come. Sure, everything could be logged on apps but it somehow motivates me better when I write it down and see my progress.

Thank goodness for my accountability buddy

Having an accountability buddy was very important for me too because I don’t want to fall off the wagon halfway. LeGeeque’s running as well and she’s my accountability buddy. We tell each other of our progress and cheer each other on. We’re not competing against each other since our fitness levels are different to each other but having someone hold me accountable to my journey to better health and fitness helps tremendously. I’m also very thankful to Norlin who got me started and hooked on running as well.

So, what are the results of my 7-week journey so far? My resting heart rate has gone down. I’m still slightly breathless after climbing a long flight of stairs, but I don’t have to stop in the middle of it to rest anymore. I no longer find > 1km distances so damn far. I’ve lost a bit of weight. I’m slowly strengthening my core. I can run 8 minutes non-stop. I’m eating healthier and I’m watching my portions (I don’t cut anything out of my diet by the way. Hello, I still love food!) And best of all (you know I have to say this, being a beauty blogger and all πŸ˜› ), my skin is looking much better.

Running Selfies

Apologies for the amount of self-indulgent selfies. I take one after each run. πŸ˜›

My first run!

To make this whole journey even better, I’ve signed up for the City 2 Sea 5km run in November. Mind you, I’m nowhere close to running a full 5km yet (I have quite a long way to go) but I’m making that 5km run my target. Never in my life have I ever willingly signed up for anything like this but I figured I wanted to work towards a target and this is it. And you know what? I’m really excited for it. Something which I couldn’t even fathom a few months ago. LeGeeque will be joining me on this run as well and since my folks will be visiting us then, they’ll be able to cheer us on.

Call it tooting my own horn if you will, but I have to say that I’m pretty damn proud of myself for doing this. For getting off my lazy backside and doing something about my very-low fitness level. Even Tim is impressed. He knows that this is incredibly hard for me and being a runner himself, I can’t imagine it being easy for him to keep quiet about seeing me rot on the couch every evening and not even want to walk just that extra mile. I’m the sort of person who would make him park the car as close to the entrance of a shopping centre/restaurant/etc as possible because I couldn’t be arsed to walk. Kid you not.

Even though it’s only been 7 weeks and not 7 months, it’s important for me to share this and also written down for you to see. If I had kept it a secret, who knows how quickly I would have fallen off the wagon. Plus if you have any tips for this beginner runner, I’d greatly appreciate it!

Target Label

When I purchased my first activewear (off topic: activewear shopping is so damn fun and addictive!) at Target, I kept one of the labels that came with the running tights. It says “30 minutes a day. That’s all. If you can find the time, your health and wellbeing will thank you.” I have that label stuck to my planner so that it reminds me every day to move actively for at least 30 minutes.

And what a change it has brought me.

What about you? Do you have a health and fitness story to share? There’s zero judgment here even if you don’t like exercising. I’ve been resisting it for so long that I didn’t even think I could get rid of that ass print on my couch!

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29 comments… add one
  1. LeGeeque

    SO. SO SO SO SO Proud of you and your progress πŸ™‚ Being a slob myself, I know exactly what you’re talking about. My idea of an exercise was picking up the xbox controller and firing off machine guns at zombies and baddies. And then walking up to top up my glass of wine. As much as I love running, I’m not a green juice-guzzling, clean-eating freak. I have cut down on wines purely because it takes longer for my body to recover after a run. On days I don’t run, I allow myself one glass. On days I run, I go half a glass. POOOOOP! But I’ve watched the flab simply melt away – so much so I need new jeans.

    My advice to anyone who’s leading a slob lifestyle, I know how comfortable it is. Don’t start off running 30mins on your first attempt because it’s not going to happen and you’re setting up yourself to fail. Set very very realistic goals. My initial running attempts were – 1 lap round the block. That’s like 2mins! THAT’S IT. Keep upping your distance/time to run. Go slow. You’re not competing with anyone but yourself. Most of all, enjoy the fresh air in your face and listen to the rhythm of your feet pounding the ground. It’s soothing.

    I’d also advice to try and run WITHOUT music. It’s changed my running game I can focus on my breathing, on my legs, on the pretty sunset, on the cute guy in lycra running in the opposite direction (oh, hello!).

    Just move. 1 minute of moving is 1 minute less making an indent on the couch. πŸ™‚

    1. Tine

      Aww thank you! I’m not a clean-eater either, although I do have one green juice each day (it helps with PS very much. Just sayin’ πŸ˜› ). Oh I definitely agree; don’t start with 30 mins! That’s what I thought I had to do before and that was exactly why I failed because all I could think was “there’s no way I can run for 30 mins, you must be joking!”. I started with 10 mins, then 15 mins then in 5 min increments to 35 mins. In fact, that’s the most I’d be running these days, and that’s not even full runs. I must have walking intervals in between. There’s a misconception that if you intend to run, you shouldn’t walk and that walking is a sign of failure or something but that’s so far from the truth. It’s been proven time and time again that with walking intervals, the overall pace is actually shorter than full-on runs!

      That’s one thing I can’t do yet, to run without music. I find it really hard running without music. Tim doesn’t recommend it and he runs without it too.

    2. Paris B

      Me, I’m a slob πŸ™ Leading the true slob lifestyle – lying on the couch, plopping myself down at every opportunity and the dratted kgs have started to come back. Have to do something about it but as I mentioned below, I only went and sprained my ankle and it’s taking a heck long time to recover so my plans to start walking again were shelved. I’m planning to restart yoga and then take it from there. But the first start is always the hardest. It’s all that inertia you know >.<
      Paris B recently posted..Get perfect-looking eyeshadow in just 5 seconds! A step-by-step guideMy Profile

      1. LeGeeque

        The hardest part is really to START. Just start really small and celebrate the small victories. Like, yay, I did 5mins of yoga today. That’s 5 mins more than you did yesterday. That’s 5 mins more than someone else who have not worked out. I remember you used to swim – pick that up again. It’s a great sport – low impact and works your entire body. if not for some recurring childhood swimming nightmares, I’d have no qualms in slapping on a cap, pulling on my bathers and jump into the pool. It’s the one thing I’ve actively stayed away and I intend to keep it that way πŸ˜› Once you start working out you’d be hard pressed to stop. I have to physically remind myself to have a proper full day of rest to let my muscles recover.

        Given a choice, I’d run 5km everyday to keep improving my time πŸ™‚

      2. Tine

        I agree with Geek; the hardest part is to start. But would you believe it, running (or whatever form of exercise really) is like Pringles. Once you pop (or start in this case), it’s hard to stop. You’ll want to add another minute to the routine. You’ll want to buy another sports bra. You’ll want to run an extra km, and so on. With prior injuries, yoga is a very good place to start. Stretch those muscles. Maybe a bit of Pilates too. Nothing high-impact. I cannot run every day or else I’ll have no knees left when the actual 5km run comes about. I haven’t run a full 5km yet, I do a lot of walking in between and it still works for me. πŸ™‚

  2. Dommie

    Proud of you and Geeque. I initially teased Geeque about her fitness spurt (apologies) but I appreciate that it’s hard to start a habit, and harder to keep it going. I’m happy to see that you both are keeping this up and I hope that running or walking Janey becomes a favorite sport of yours. The only sport I do is climbing and luckily it’s something I do love, so I think finding an exercise you love is key. I’ve done the low carb diet and had headaches because truthfully, I was alao reducing calories. Bear in mind that with your fitness journey, weight loss doesn’t always happen. I’ve gained about 3kg in muscle while staying the same size πŸ™‚

    1. Tine

      Thanks Dommie. I’m actually very surprised I’m not bothered to weigh myself to see if I’ve lost weight (usually this is the first thing I’ll be thinking of). For the first time, like EVER, I’m more interested in building muscle and strengthen my core. If I don’t lose more weight, meh, I can deal with it. Although of course I hope I do because the less weight I have to carry when running, the better. πŸ™‚

      I’ve definitely been walking Janey longer now. She’s happy to walk more because it means she’ll see more. I don’t run with her because she couldn’t keep up and I don’t want to have to pull the poor thing with me when I’m running and she’s lagging behind, given that she’s getting along in years.

      I really didn’t think I’d like running. I’ve resisted it for so many years because I hated any sort of running or sports that make me sweat and my glasses fall off my nose. Funny now that I actually turn the heater up when I’m working out at home to make me sweat more! πŸ˜›

  3. Paris B

    Very proud of you, Tine πŸ™‚ I have to say that since I’m the sedentary sort, it’s very very hard for me to get any sort of momentum going. When I tried brisk walking, and actually got into a good habit, I injured my foot and it had to stop. Then I went back to doing yoga. Got into a habit, and then I injured my ankle! I don’t know, it’s like the universe is conspiring against my trying to get fit πŸ˜› But I have plans to go back to starting out with some yoga and then moving on to something else. That dratted ankle doesn’t seem to be much better, so I have shelved walking/running for a while. It was good to get out in the green and (relatively) fresh air though
    Paris B recently posted..For Perfectly Defined brows, take a look at the Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Brow PencilMy Profile

    1. Tine

      I don’t know how you guys in Malaysia do it. The heat and humidity! Going for morning walks with my in-laws and folks for less than 30 mins and I was already sweating buckets. I really take my hat off to those who manages to run in Malaysia, I really do. I can run in < 5 C weather but the thought of running in Malaysia makes me very nervous. Hahaha you can beat it! Great idea to start with yoga. Don't start with anything medium-high impact. In fact, Geek's idea on swimming is great for people who have injured themselves.

  4. xin

    am so so proud of you my child! to be honest, i also hate the idea of sweating and sticky all over πŸ˜› and i hate running too. LOL. i tried, and i really tried, running is really not my thing. i used to walk in the parking quite frequently but i realized my flat feet wasn’t really pleased with my walks. am now joining yoga class at least twice a week, and sometimes cycling (when it’s not too crazy hot) and my feet definitely not bitching about it anymore πŸ˜€

    p/s: i didn’t lose any single gram, damn you fatsssssss!!!
    xin recently posted..The Life Guard in a Can – Burt’s Bee Herbal SprayMy Profile

    1. LeGeeque

      YOU PROBABLY GAINED MUSCLES! That’s why didn’t lose a gram πŸ˜›

    2. Tine

      Hahahah it’s muscle gain! πŸ˜€

      I totally know what you mean and to tell you the truth, if I was still living in Malaysia now, running would be out of the question for me. I went for yoga and aerobics classes several times a week though, so that’s good too that you’re doing it too. Plus there are heaps of exercise videos on YouTube that you an give a go (for yoga, search for Jen Hilman and for high-impact cardio, search for Bipasha Basu). I do these in between my run days.

  5. Norlin

    So so very glad to see your progress! You know, adding you on Map My Run is so good but bad for me? It sh*ts me every time the damn thing notifies me that you or Geek has done a run and I’ve only been sitting on my arse all day?? Good motivation I tell you! LOL!
    As for food – yeah, I don’t cut out anything either, just the portion size. Hello, how can I say no to food? Do you also notice that you don’t fall sick as easily? And that if you do, you would recover way quicker. So glad to hear that you’ve signed up for the City2Surf event! Go Tine!!
    Norlin recently posted..Fashion Day: Styling Lessons From IrisMy Profile

    1. Tine

      Thanks for inspiring Geek and I to run! HAHAHAHAHA eh each time you post a picture on IG/FB on your run, it shits me! πŸ˜›
      I haven’t fallen sick in ages! (TOUCH WOOD) Hopefully I keep up with the regime. I’ve been taking my vitamins diligently and drinking more water too. Having a health and fitness journal (or in my case, notebook) really helps. So does the Fitbit and those challenges!

  6. Tracy

    Bravo for being so honest and upfront with your journey. Some people make it sound so easy when it’s really quite hard especially if you’ve been out of the game for awhile. I’m in the same boat as most people who don’t exercise regularly. I’m actually quite embarrassed seeing as both my husband and I were competing on a national level into our late teens (me – figure skating and him – gymnastics) Both of us were competitive athletes all through high school and college and now we can barely make it up a few flights of stairs. Our justification is that we aren’t overweight so what’s the big deal. The big deal is we aren’t healthy. No excuses here. Just pure laziness. Both of us will be 40 next year and it scares the crap out of us because it’s not going to get any easier so should start now. I used to run 3 miles a day. Now I won’t even walk to the store across the street. It’s hard for us since we used to exercise every single day and know what’s it’s like to be in the best condition. Just seems so far away from where we are now. I’m glad you posted this because it reminded me that you have to start small. Doing something is better than doing nothing.
    Tracy recently posted..Married to a Chef Part 5 | FOODMy Profile

    1. Tine

      It’s DAMN hard, Tracy! Very very hard. It’s not easy at all, trust me. I’ve never even been IN the game to begin with so it’s even harder for me. The key is to start small, but really, it’s just to start. Even though you used to run 3 miles a day, don’t start immediately with 3 miles. Just do 1 and go home. Do that for the next week or so. Just 1 mile. As you get back to the hang of things, you’ll automatically want to push yourself to add in extra mileage. Even though my Couch 2 5K app finishes after about 30 mins and the last 5 mins is cool down time, I’ll continue running if I’m not near my house yet and I’ll keep running until I reach the point where I can walk the last 5 mins all the way home as a method of cooling down. I couldn’t do this at all for the first 4 weeks.

      Like you said, doing something is better than doing nothing. Take the stairs instead of the lifts or escalators. Park further away from the entrance to your destination (when it’s safe to do so) and walk more.

      Best of luck! YOU CAN DO IT! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

  7. Mel

    This is encouraging to read. Great job! I would love to get back to running 5km, like I could a few years ago.
    Mel recently posted..The Zombie Lifestyle of Working Full Time in an OfficeMy Profile

    1. Tine

      Do it Mel! There are plenty of fun runs throughout the year. I’d love to try the Colour Run next. I hear it’s a lot of fun!

  8. Shamnon w

    Yay I’m so happy for you!
    I’ve been on a similar journey ever since I tried to fit on an expensive dress and realised I could no longer zip it up. I’ve never been body conscious since high school but I hated to think I’d let myself go.

    I’ve been slowly adding in more and more exercise over the last 10 months – I didn’t even know how long I’d been trying to improve my health until last night, when I did a routine on hard mode that I couldn’t even get halfway through without collapsing 10 months ago (it’s a fitness blender routine, ab burnout or something!) It’s such a wonderful feeling to notice your own strength!

    1. Tine

      Thank you thank you! πŸ˜€

      OMG I know what you mean! When I first started, I felt like dying, it was so damn hard. Now it’s slowly getting better and I’m pushing myself slightly harder day after day. I couldn’t plank and push up when I started. Now I can do 1/3 of the way (still can’t go down :P).

  9. MonicaP

    Congrats! I love the Couch to 5K app, even thought I’ve been on week 1 forever – I just run on the treadmill in the garage .. so no need for me to advance.

    My off posting this week has been due to fitness clothes shopping instead of regular shopping .. lol. A Lululemon opened up in a local mall and I can’t seem to stay out of that store! Plus I’m currently addicted to sports bra shopping too πŸ˜‰

    MonicaP recently posted..Embroidered Midi Dress from Old NavyMy Profile

    1. Tine

      Thanks Monica!

      I have a problem running on treadmills, but I reckon it’s most likely because I so rarely run on one (we don’t have one at home). It throws my balance way off when I’m done, and when the conveyor belt stops. Even though I’ve slowed it way down (so slow that if I didn’t stop, I’ll fall off), when the conveyor belt finally stops, it makes me so dizzy that I have to hold on to the handles because my legs turn into jelly. How can I conquer that?

      OMG sports bra shopping! SO ADDICTIVE! We have Lululemon and Lorna Jane here (latter is the Australian equivalent) and I love checking out their activewear. But boy, are they expensive!

  10. Swati

    Hey tine! Wow and kudos to you and all the best for your goal. I am equally lazy and have been thinking about running since ages but never mustered up courage and stopped being lazy! Hope this acts as an inspiration πŸ™‚
    Swati recently posted..Just Gossip Vol. 34 – Vacationing and Hauling and Everything Else!My Profile

    1. Tine

      Thanks Swati! The key is to get started, however small. Actually, start small, really small. Go out and run for 5 mins and then walk back. Seriously, just 5 mins, and then walk back. Do this for the week. You’ll find that once you get the momentum going, you’ll automatically want to add an extra minute, then another minute, then another km and so on. It’s like Pringles; once you pop, you can’t stop! πŸ˜€

      1. Swati

        Hmmm…just yesterday my husband went to doc after a long time for his back ache and doc advised him to exercise so we started a 15 min schedule everyday doing back stretches and a bit of yoga. Let’s hope it acts as a starting point. But, will do this as well. And, all the best for your goals πŸ™‚
        Swati recently posted..Vote for #perfectskincareforyou to help it win at #WIN15 πŸ™‚My Profile

        1. Tine

          Good idea! Start small and then slowly go from there. Best of luck! πŸ™‚

  11. Beauty Box

    That’s so awesome! What a huge change in your life! You do look incredibly happy in those photos πŸ˜‰ I certainly believe that working out brings you a new lease of life.
    Beauty Box recently posted..Mummy Makeup: 3-Minute FOTDMy Profile

    1. Tine

      Thanks Yu Ming! It’s a huge change all right and I’m so glad I finally got off my butt to do something about my poor fitness levels. You know how I know the changes reflected on me physically? When the first words out of my mum’s mouth when she first saw me again wasn’t “OH YOU’VE PUT ON WEIGHT AGAIN”. πŸ˜› πŸ˜› πŸ˜›

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