Archive for the 'Health' Category

[PD] Avoid Giving Up and Burning Out by Incremental Change

I had a conversation at dinner tonight where a friend of a friend mentioned her effort on a physical training program. Unfortunately, the attempt seemed to have come to an end after 12 days. Doesn’t this sound familiar? Haven’t we all heard this somewhere before? Maybe because it’s happening all around us. Perhaps you are one of them.

This is the exact same thing when we hear about someone’s new year resolution or someone’s birthday resolution or someone’s after-doctor-visit resolution. Somehow these certain events would provide people this sudden burst of energy and motivation. Then overnight, they transform into fanatics in exercising and gym. Amazing. But these effort usually ends in desertion and is completely forgotten after a few days, a few weeks, or at most a few months. All that effort wasted, sadly.

What went wrong? People burn out quickly whenever they abruptly change their entire routine and lifestyle in order to contribute to such total dedicaion. Let’s say your work suddenly requires you to work 100 hours per week when you usually work 40. I’m sure you will burn out quite quickly. Suddenly making yourself exercise couple hours everyday of the week when you don’t normally exercise is no difference. Despite feeling good for yourself at the beginning, such abrupt change puts so much stress, both physical and mental, on you that will easily lead to giving up.

How to avoid? First, you must understand that your goal is to achieve long-term, sustaining change. You may as well not waste your time if you don’t see it this way. You will need to implement incremental change over time, by doing it one step after another. You cannot learn to sprint without learning the proper way to breath and run first. You cannot lift 100 lbs before you can lift 25, 50, 75… lbs first. So, if you never run on daily basis, maybe start running 15 minutes at a comfortable pace. Then 30 minutes, 45 minutes, with gradual increase in speed. Find a suitable pace for yourself.

However, in order to improve, it is essential that you must push yourself a little over the limit each time. Run just a little longer and faster, lift just a little heavier, despite the diffuculty, despite the pain. Move outside your comfort zone. Get uncomfortable. In the end, it’s all worth it because you want to change, to improve, which is why you are doing it in the first place.

So far I have mostly focus on the health aspect of incremental change. However, the same princple can be applied in personal development and personal finance. If you spend $2000 in order to eat delicious food each month and then you force yourself to start eating fast food or only salads for $200 a month, the likelihood of you keeping up is extremely low. Worse yet, you may rebound and start spending more than $2000 later to make up for it. Instead, you can slowly lessen the frequency of eating out, at expensive restaurants, to give yourself time to get used to the change. Eventually, you will end up spending $200 a month. Or you can start saving $50 each month, then $100 after awhile, then $200…

It is important to understand that the incremental change principle suggested here is a healthy way to create sustaining change, applicable in all areas of life. It is not the only way, but it is a healthy way. It is about making a conscious choice for every action and doing it one step at a time.

Based on the incremental change principle, I suggested to the friend, “How about slow it down and start training 2 to 3 times a week?” for which I received a blank stare on her face. I sure hope this post is a bit more well received.

[Health|PD] If you don’t use it, you lose it

In the past two years as I learned fitness/exercise/gym as a habit, one thing that is very pertinent in life is that - If you don’t use it, you lose it.

One doesn’t have to be a kinesiology major to understand that. My experience has been that even if it has just been a week of inactivity, I notice a deline in my weight training (very obvious) or cardiovascular performance. How do I tell? The answer is the amount of soreness I can feel. Even more obvious is the immense soreness + pain whenever I start some new training. And hence, the need for us to emphasize on consistency of exercise. To avoid the benefits that we have worked so hard to archieve, it’s best to continue to do something at least, even just to maintain a moderate level of the benefits. In addition…

The idea of “If you don’t use it, you lose it” does not only apply to fitness and health. On my path of exploring and learning singing myself, I continuously discovered that many of the causes for my difficulty to produce more beautiful tone are muscular apathy of head/facial area muscles. It is over time when I consciously practice these muscles that I am able to improve.

Actually, not only is this the problem for people trying to learn how to sing, but this is the problem for people between ethnic group learning a foreign tongue. Certain languages only require us to use certain facial muscles. It is one of the many reasons that when we try to learn a new language that we have difficulty with announciation. What we need to do is to practice using all the muscles on our face :)

Well, another thing is that us humans have a tendency to be lazy and use less, or just enough, muscle to perform a certain task. That is exactly why we need to re-learn deep breathing for our health, and also exercise our mind to maintain our mental sharpness, and of course, exercise our body to make sure we don’t lose those muscle.

In fact, I would go as far to say that everything in our body is governed by this concept of “If you don’t use it, you lose it”. Therefore, everyday we need to consciously use every part of our body and push it to improve, expand, and realize our potentials!

[Health] Proper Posture for Health

Posted Under: Health

I talked about learning “better” breathing before. Closely relating to that, posture is almost equally important for our daily lives and health. Actually, getting the breathing down will depend on having better posture. Several factors together prompted me and helped me to fix my own postures: back pain from sitting in office (major), gym’ing, playing piano, and singing. Not only will better postures improve our health and make us feel better in general, with better posture, there will certainly be improvement in all activities/exercise.

By no means am I an health expert, but here are some pointers that I follow personally and have great results:

  • Spread and relax the shoulders so they’re slightly angle downward
  • Arms on the side of the body
  • Straighten up the neck and tuck the chin in, so the head does not stick forward
  • Push the sternum outward slightly so the rib cage is opened

These last 4 will help you not to slouch.

  • Don’t lock the knees while standing
  • Spreading your legs to shoulder width apart while standing
  • While sitting at a desk or in front of computer, maintain a straight back do not lean your body forward
  • Relax muscles around the buttocks when sitting
  • Balance the weight of the body more towards the balls of the feet instead of the heels

These last 5 steps will help to reduce the strain on th back tremendously.

  • Finally, together with everything, try to feel and monitor the body so you know when your body is tense and try to relax. Deep breathing will help to do that. Drinking more water will also help.

Those are the things I do, and I am noticing how it has helped me in everything. It’s the fundamental in all the things we do, be it piano, dancing, working out, singing, basketball. Fix and improve your posture, then keep it consistently to live a better life :)

[Health] The Essence of Life Is Breathing

Posted Under: Health

Remember back when we’re young, when we’re so full of energy and exuberant, that we never seem to out of breath? That’s right, we never ran out of breath. We used to breath correctly. We breathed correctly with our entire body.

So what happened to our breathing? Because of outter influence, stress, pressure, bad habits, we lost our ability to breath properly. We become upper chest breathers as we grow. We no longer breath properly and only breath JUST ENOUGH for survival. But we no longer breath enough to keep ourselves in optimum shape. There are plenty of articles out on the Internet that talks about WHY breathing properly is important. So I won’t re-invent or plagerize here.

I can speak of some effects of obtaining the skill. Your body can be more easily relaxed. You will feel more energized. It’ll help you tremendously in all sorts of exercises and activities. Your mind can be more sharp. The benefits are countless.

Deep breathing involve all the major parts of the torsal and facial mask, not just the chest. First you need to keep your nasal cavity opened, which requires the relaxing of the facial muscle in that area. You will feel they are kind of “lifted” when done correctly. Then you need to learn how to breath with the diaphragm. One tip is to focus on a point that’s 2-3 inch below the belly button toward the back. Take in air deep pushing diaphragm downward, feeling the sensation and focusing at the focal point. You will notice expanding of the rib cage and the belly. And finally, the chest can expand slightly to take in more air, but no raising the shoulders. The whole process of breathing in and out should take a lot longer than only upper chest breathing (heaving). It will take discipline to make it into a habit. However, it’s a truly refreshing habit to have.

Give it a try.

[Health] Consistent Exercise

Posted Under: Diary, Health

As previously mentioned, I’ve been consistently hitting the gym for weight training, and that I leave my cardio to other exercises. But due to the lenghty period of cold weather and lack of internal basketball facility (I can no longer go to my school’s facility now), I’ve been passing up basketball for about 2 months… until yesterday.

Yesterday’s weather was gorgeous and it’s too much to pass up. So I went to shoot some hoop with my good friend at work. Shortly after we did some shooting, some other folks showed up and we decided to play a game, which turned out to be a full-court game. I did not keep it mind that it’s my first return to cardio/basketball after awhile and went all-out running/jumping. It was all fun but needless to say… I’m really feeling it today!

So the advice is… keep up with your exercise consistently. Notice the keyword is consistently. If you’ve taken a break for awhile, don’t just shove yourself back into it but instead try to work yourself gradually back into a routine. Well, you can shove yourself into… don’t say I didn’t warn you :P