Assessing My Physical Condition

Recently a colleague of mine got a full physical checkup at a hospital while on vacation in Kerala and was explaining the procedure to me. I’ve never had any major tests done on me except for the blood group test so I thought it would be nice to see if everything was in proper working condition.

I found out that most hospitals have health check packages that you can choose from based on your requirements so I opted for something that would give me an overall understanding of where I stood health wise. The package was called the ‘Master Health Check’ and consisted of the following;

I was relieved to find out that all tests came back with optimum results except for maybe my lung capacity test (which could be attributed to the fact that I used to smoke occasionally before I quit in 2006) which I hope to improve by running and swimming more in the coming months.

My heart and circulatory system are in perfect shape and I even got good results on the stress tests. I’m thankful that I decided to adopt a healthier lifestyle and based on the two consultations I had with the physicians, I’m just an average guy with a slight weight problem that can be solved by moderation in caloric intake and increasing physical activity.

Since I enjoy my alcohol I also decided to get detailed information about my liver functions. Based on the tests performed I learned that my liver is just as good as the next guy and with that information in hand I hopped into the nearest bar on the way back home for a celebratory drink.

The Master Health Check package cost Rs. 4500 and takes about 4 hours to complete all tests. If you go early in the morning you can be out of the hospital before lunch time.

Endomondo – Android App

Recently a friend of mine introduced me to Endomondo to help track my progress while running and it made quite an impression on me. Now unfortunately I used it only twice as I was down with a bad flu for a week. Endomondo is purpose built for sports and has a really good options list that accommodates almost any kind of outdoor sport you might want to track.

The best part I like is that it also shows you a graph with the speed over each section and you’ll get an idea of how your session went thru. I’m trying to gain some stamina and have adopted the interval technique so hopefully this graph will let me know if I’m slacking off or sticking to the plan. The one below is from a run I did around Riggae park and it looks fairly consistent. Now the only trouble would be maintaining that consistency over a larger distance and longer time periods.

Download Endomondo [link]

My first kettlebell experience

Last week I found out thru my friend Cajie that there was a certified kettlebell instructor in Kuwait who was willing to give some guidance and knowledge on working out with the kettlebell. Now check this link to find out [what a kettlebell is].So in preparation I checked out a few online resources, like [this one] and even psyched myself by watching the video below and thought to myself “How hard can this be?” Little did I know that it would be a strenuous experience.


Kettlebell Meltdown 300 Workout [Youtube]

We started of with a ‘Farmer’s walk’, holding the weight in either hand alternatively and then over our heads. This was followed by some more warm up exercises and by the end of one session I was ready to call it quits but I tried to do one more and I almost passed out like a virgin girl at a Justin Beiber concert! Working out with the kettlebell really engages a lot more muscles than you’d imagine and now as I’m writing this I remember the words of the instructor this morning, “by the end of the day you’ll be hurting in places you never knew existed”.

The basic principle behind the kettlebell workout is to increase your core strength which is the basis of having a good posture and general well being. A healthy core is worth suffering some pain and blackouts so that means I’ll be going again next week for another session to punish myself 🙂  If you’re interested in joining drop a message on this thread and someone will contact you.


A fat guy’s guide to running

After some motivation from my friend Cajie, who’s an avid runner, a couple of weekends ago I finally decided to graduate from speed walking to running.  The most important thing is taking the first step, half of the battle is won if you have the determination, and the other half? well by the time you get into your groove you won’t think of your workout as a battle but more of a challenge . As I write this post my front calves and quadriceps are killing me but it felt really great to actually run.

Although I’ve been walking long distances (10Km approx) for quite a while this was my first combo-run-jog-speedwalk outing and I’ve got some tips for the guys out there if you want to give it a try.  No technical and medical stuff here, just my personal tips and opinions.  Here’s a previous post of mine about fitness

1. Running playlist: this was one of the things that I goofed up on. I didn’t have a dedicated playslist for running on my mp3 player and so every now and then just as I was in the zone listening to Iron Maiden or Metallica the next track would go to George Michael’s Jesus to a child and mess up the pace completely. Next time I’m gonna select some hardcore tracks just for running.

2. Dress like a runner: I’ve seen too many guys wearing jeans and (ugh) cargo pants while exercising. You need a good pair of shorts or track suits if you want to run properly and the fabric should allow your skin to breathe when you sweat. Also note that the fabric should be flame retardant coz when you gather speed your tighs will be rubbing together so fast you’ll start a ‘bush’ fire if you’re not careful.

3. Time and place: Now that its summer the best time to go out would be around 5 AM or after 5 PM, any time in between and you’ll be burnt to a crisp. Location is pretty important too. If you’re running along the sidewalk in a residential area or in the city you’ll be exposed to exhaust fumes from passing cars and  in many places dust and broken glass and garbage. The best place IMO is the pathway from Scientific center all the way to Sharq, you’ll have plenty of fresh air and the sea breeze should hopefully lessen your exposure to vehicle emmisions.

4. Stretching and warmup: I cannot stress this enough, always spend a good 5 or 10 minutes stretching and warming up your leg muscles and body before any physical activity. I injured a tendon in my heel during the NBK walkathon 2010 because I didn’t stretch properly. This injury took more than 6 months to heal and now I’m very careful about stretching.

5. Shoes and socks: Running shoes or cross trainers are a must! no compromises there and its wise to have a pair just for exercising. When it comes to socks be sure to buy the best quality cotton sports socks coz if you’re planning on running/walking for more than an hour your feet will undergoe a lot of rubbing and physical stress along the edges of the shoe, this can cause blisters and bleeding if there’s not enough cushioning for your feet.

6. Hydration: Long distance running requires you keep yourself hydrated and be sure to carry along an ice cold bottle of your favorite energy drink. One of the things I do is dilute my Gatorade with water in a 50:50 ratio since I find that just Gatorade leaves my mouth feeling dry in a few minutes.

7. Pace: If you’re not accustomed to physical activity you can’t expect to run non-stop at a constant pace for any distance. What I used was a cyclic technique where I’d run for 3 minutes the slow down to a jog  for 3 minutes and then a speed walk for another 5 or 10 minutes and back to running again. I kept repeating this cycle till I felt my lungs were on fire and my feet were made of lead. I guess you can actually feel the lactic acid rushing through your muscles when you’re doing something like this. Once you’ve grown accustomed to this pace you can go up a notch and run for more time with lesser walks/jogs in between.

Now I’m not an expert runner nor in the best of shape but this is just what I observed and plan to work on in the future and I hope its useful for the couch potatoes reading this now.

Staying motivated

Its a little difficult to stay motivated in your fitness regimen if you’re not seeing fast results. This happens to the best of us and there are many ways to get inspired.

Real life fitness stories:
I’m not talking about those fake before and after TV ads where a fat guy magically transforms into a Greek god after exercising for only 30 seconds a day for 1 week (makes no sense, does it? :P) There are real people out there who’ve spent years religiously adhering to their workout and diet schedules and ultimately transformed themselves into healthier and better looking individuals. I read the transformation stories on my usual fitness sites to get a boost from time to time. I mean take a look at these two examples and tell me you’re not inspired.

Ex- smoker and heavy drink – John Stone [link] and regular fat guy – Mark Irwin [link]

Music is another great motivator so get your blood pumping with some classic rock. One of my favorite workout albums is the Rocky OST collection. If ‘Eye of the Tiger’ doesn’t make you wanna get down on the floor and do a hundred push-ups then there’s something wrong with you! Basically any heavy rock music works for me but each person is different so its OK if you listen to Venga Boys or Aqua while working out but just don’t come near me.

Self Assessments:
I weigh myself DAILY! Yes, 7 days a week. Its best to do it at the same time everyday so that you get consistent conditions. Most experts says its best in the morning after you’ve woken up and voided your bowels. You have to measure your body parts as well. and make sure that your hard work is paying off.  There’s no bigger pleasure than seeing those triceps popping out when you extend your hand or seeing your calf muscles roll up into a ball of steel when you lift your heels. Use a tape measure to take regular measurements although be advised that size increases will not be as dramatic as you imagine and time is a crucial factor in these things.

Buy smaller clothes or tighten your belt:
If you’re comfortable in your loose clothes then you’ll stay comfortable forever, tight clothes will be a constant reminder that you’re too fat to fit in it. I got all my belts punched with new holes farther and farther away from the end and each time it gets loose I just go onto the next hole till its tight again.

Honest friends: If your friend is honest he would probably say something like ‘Dude your moobs (man boobs) are huge!’ or ‘Dude when was the last time you saw your own penis?’ and that in my opinion is better than some guy saying ‘oh you look great in that t-shirt’ 😀

I wish you all good health, watch this video and have a great weekend.

Push ups – Do it army style

One of the important things to do while your training your body is to keep raising the bar as you get comfortable with a certain routine or workout item. My friend Cajie had introduced me to the US Army Physical Fitness Test Scores (APFT) and it motivates you to increase your stamina and energy levels so that you’re at least 3/4ths as good as a military man.

You can view the Military score card here [link] and they also provide a training plan [link] that should hopefully get your endurance and strength up to their levels. I’ve been slacking off lately so my peak is at 32 reps. According to their scoring system thats ranked 53/100 where 77 reps gives you a perfect score.

Additional links

Hundred push [link]

e-How: How to do military push ups [link]

Fitness advice from a Fat Guy

My Kettler adjustable dumbells and Grizzly weightlifter's gloves

Now getting health advice from a fat guy might be like getting sexual counseling from a Catholic priest or Barbecuing tips from a vegetarian but here’s a few things that’s worked for me so far;

I’ve been ‘Big’ all my life, some would prefer the word ‘Big boned’ or ‘well nourished’ but it all boils down to plain ol’ body fat. Thanks to a strict diet of booze and fast food during my college days back in India I swelled up to a massive 112 Kilograms and would get red in the face whenever I had to take a flight of stairs or run after a bus. A couple of years ago I decided enough was enough and I needed to get back in shape and live a little longer. Now two years later, although I’m still a little overweight, I can run up a few floors without fainting, swim a couple of laps without sinking like a stone and even took part in the annual NBK Walkathon two years in a row and completed the full course of 8 Kilometers without even getting out of breath.

Eat healthy
Its extremely important to eat a well balanced nutritious meal. Our bodies need a combination of proteins, carbohydrates, fibers, vitamins, minerals and even fats/oils for our day-to-day activities.

.Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and should have enough carbs to jump start your metabolism and give you energy for the start of the day. Complex carbs found in oats and whole wheat breaks down slowly and steadily in your body without spiking your sugar levels.

.A mid morning snack like an apple or a banana is good since it fills your stomach and thus you’re not tempted to buy a croissant or cinnamon bun from the snack cart.

.Lunch is usually 5 hours after you’ve had breakfast so now your stomach is ready for the next proper meal. A good balanced lunch should contain lean protein like lean meat, chicken or fish. You also need vegetables and some form or carbs like rice, bread or potatoes but not all of them at the same time. Most Indian meals will contain rice, chapati and potatoes so you’re overloading on carbs!

.An evening snack/pre-workout snack like an energy bar or a handful of nuts and tea is adequate.

.Dinner/post work out meal should ideally be half an hour or an hour after your workout, this should be the lightest meal of the day and does’nt have to contain as much carbs as your lunch. Personally I just have some fruit and a pot of Activia yogurt mixed with powdered Flax seeds. This may be too little for some people but I sleep early so this works for me. The rule of thumb is that you should have your last meal of the day at least 3 hours before bedtime.

Count those calories
Noting down what you eat during the day is a great way to keep track of calories and you’ll know for sure if you’re within your daily limits. This calorie counter helps you to track your dailt intake as well as your output during exercise.

My calorie counter [link]

Forget fad diets
Every now and then you’ll hear about some friend of yours whos on the ‘GM’ or ‘GE’ diet (both of which are just hoaxes), Atkins diets and other similar diets either restrict your intake or necessary food groups or encourage you to eat excessive amounts of a particular food group. Let me tell you something, THERES NO MIRACLE DIET. Here’s some additional information on these diets

Fad diets Wikipedia [link]
Cabbage soup diet Wikipedia [link]

Losing Fat
There are lots of misconceptions about fat and fat loss. The most common misconception is that you lose fat if you sweat or spend time in a steam room or sauna. Fat is fat and water is water, whenever you sweat or sit in a steam room your body loses water and this may show up on your scales as a weight loss. Pretty soon you regain the lost water and you’re back to square one. The only ‘good’ way to lose body fat is thru physical activity. In the long run this assures permanent fat loss and you gain muscle mass, its a win-win situation!

Facts about fat [link]

Dont overdo those crunches
Another myth about fat loss is that if you work a body part long enough you’ll lose fat from that area. This is completely false, if you work your stomach muscles you might be losing fat from your thighs or arms. During my conversations with a certified dietician I was informed that fat loss begins from the areas that accumulated the latest, so that means places like your tummy and behind (which are usually the places that gain fat first) will be the last places to lose fat. So dont be discouraged if you dont feel an immediate size reduction in your mid-rif, you might be losing fat from your arms and legs and then slowly will start losing from your mid section.
Spot reduction myth [link]

Water is your friend
A good way to keep away cravings and keep your body hydrated is to drink plenty of water all throughout the day. Often when you ‘feel’ hungry it may not be hunger at all but a craving for water. Drinking excess amounts of sugary juices or soda(even diet soda) is not a good idea if you’re trying to lose weight.
Importance of staying hydrated [link]

Get off that sofa
The first step towards a healthy lifestyle is getting off that sofa and doing some physical activity like walking or running. You dont have to start running the marathon to be healthy. Find out what works best for you, brisk walking, jogging, stair climbing, swimming etc it doesnt matter as long as you enjoy it and gives you a good workout. One thing about excercise is to keep in mind that the body starts working on your fat reserves only after 30 minutes of physical activity. Therefore during your 1 hour workout, the first 30 minutes you’re not losing fat but rather your body is warming up and then the next 30 minutes is when the stored fat in your body is utilized to provide energy for the workout.

Pump it up
Lifting weights or resistance training is a great way to build muscle mass and one good thing about muscles is that they burn calories even while you sleep! Try to exercise at least one part of your body once a week and keep rotating your schedule so you dont feel bored. Some people I know are reluctant to lift weights and say that they dont want to look like Arnold. Dont worry you’ll never have to worry about looking like that coz that takes decades of dedicated workouts 🙂

My friend and fellow blogger Cajie has a blog dedicated to fitness and you can find more information on health and fitness there. He has also provided tons of valuable tips on fitness.
Running for Six-pack [link]

Fahad from Core Fitness now has his very own blog; Trying to be Fahad [link]

**Disclaimer: I’m not a certified trainer or dietitian. These are just a few things that have worked for me, your body might be different and hence react differently. Always consult a doctor or a trained fitness expert before attempting a new activity. I wish you good health.

Weekend breakfast

Over the past 4 or 5 months I’ve been religiously counting my daily calorie intake in an effort to lead a healthy lifestyle. I’m not a long distance runner but one of my influences in shaping my daily work out routine and diet has been Cajie’s new fitness blog and his wealth of advice on fitness and nutrition.
Weekend Fry-up Breakfast
5 days a week my breakfast is Quaker Old Fashioned Oats cooked in approximately 200 ml of Al Marai Vetal Milk, combined with some chopped fruits. This provides approximately 500 calories and is one of my most important meals of the day. On other days I have a combination of Protein and Carbohydrates like eggs and whole wheat or multi-grain toast with a helping of milk. But this weekend I said to myself “aw fuckit” and made myself a sumptuous proper fry-up breakfast.This is what I had; 2 eggs, 3 slices of beef luncheon, 2 slices of tomato, 1 hash brown, a side of Tabouleh and a glass of freshly squeezed Orange juice. Luckily for me this seemingly decadent breakfast was only around 500 calories when I checked it against my calorie counter. 🙂

Start your own calorie counter journal [link]