Saturday, January 21, 2012

Take it Easy on the Rice

Over the years since I started my healthy diet, I developed a surefire method to keep my rice consumption to a minimum. I call it the "scraping method". The trick is to use a fork instead of a spoon to scoop my rice. Thus, I'm merely "scraping" my rice because not a lot of rice sticks on to a fork as much as to a spoon. People I eat with sometimes tease me because of the amount of rice I leave on my plate. When the teasing stops, they end up finishing off the rice for me!

Despite my cautionary affair with rice, I could not completely remove it from my diet like others do. I love rice! It's a good source of energy to get me through my exercise routines. Just take it easy on it -- left unchecked, excess carbs are converted to fat -- not cool!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

How to Start Running

Getting into the habit of running doesn't take a stroke of brilliance or an epiphany or divine intervention. Running is a lifestyle that requires a resolve to make a few, simple changes in your life. My friends tell me that they're intimidated by running. I kind of see why, but a mental rebuttal (which I will reveal right after) eases that thought away.

Some Tidbits About Running

Running is nothing more than walking, only a little faster. Purists might sue me, but jogging is technically running and doesn't mean you have to run as fast as the Road Runner or Usain Bolt. Running is all about pacing. You only run what you can, and build up on it.

How I Got Started

It can be scary and I get that. When I began running I could only run 200 meters without stopping. I'd rest a bit, then try to run again and disappointingly, could not do another 200 meters. Very often, I'd feel a sharp pain in my right abdomen (side stitches), which sucks. Luckily, side stitches are due to a common breathing problem that corrects itself in time. So I set my initial goal small: to run a full kilometer non-stop in two weeks. I showed up at my gym everyday trying to build up my stamina, following a routine of running and walking in intervals. I ran 200 meters, walked 200 meters so on and so forth until I reached one kilometer. In as little as one week I was able to run a kilometer with no breaks. Proud of myself, I set a higher goal: two kilometers. The rest is history. Today I can run 10 kilometers straight, though I only run 6 kilometers at my gym three times a week before I lift weights.

How You Can Get Started

1. Find time to dedicate to this new endeavor. Work or school may seem hectic but if you could just squeeze an hour out of them you can do this! If you work from your home you of all people are in the best position to get fit!

2. Before anything else, talk to your doctor. Ask him or her if you have any medical conditions that may be of concern while running. People with heart or lung problems, high blood pressure, diabetes, bad joints, or those who are pregnant, overweight and over the age of 60 must absolutely consult their doctor.

3. When all is clear, buy a good pair of running shoes. Local sports depots (Toby's, Run Club, Runnr) do free analysis to determine your foot type, allowing you to buy the proper pair of shoes.

4. If you have extra cash, buy an MP3 player. Load it with your favorite music (I prefer fast, loud beats from movie soundtracks) to break the monotony that often comes with running. I recommend the iPod Nano. It comes with a built-in pedometer that measures the distance you've run and sends the data back to Nike+ to keep tabs on your progress.

5. Look for a good place to run. It could be your gym, village or local park. Be sure that the venue is well-paved, well-lit and free of stray animals to avoid unnecessary injury.

6. Set a goal. The idea is to build your endurance to run for longer periods of time. If you don't have a pedometer, you may bring a watch to keep track of the time. Start by walking for five minutes, then jog at your own pace for one minute. Repeat four times for three days in a week. Do not try to run fast! You will tire faster and not be able to hold up for one minute. After the first week, decrease the walking period to 4 minutes and increase the jogging period to two minutes. Once you're in your eighth week, you should already be at 8 minutes of jogging with just a minute of walking.

7. If you feel that you've built enough stamina, aim to run 30 minutes straight 3 times week.

8. Bring a liter of water to keep yourself hydrated. Leave the bottle in an accessible corner where you can easily pick it up and steal a gulp.

9. There is a innate tendency to want to eat after running. That's okay, but try to get rid of that mindset that you have to take "food revenge" on your recent physical activity. Eat right, and you'll see those pounds shed off effortlessly.

10. There are "fun runs" being held every weekend. Join them -- they're good training and give you a great sense of achievement right after.

My friends and I are planning a leisure run every weekend here in Davao City. Leave me a note if you wish to join or if you have any questions.