Friday, August 3, 2018

One-on-One Personal Training: Lowest Body Fat Composition So Far!

I've come to the end of my 2-months fitness challenge set by Superman and so, it's only fitting that I report on the results haha. All things considered, it is pretty encouraging ( ᐛ )و

Superman reminded me countless times in the last week after my measurement that this was not the end though... My weight and body fat tends to fluctuate a few kilos/ percentages throughout the year because usually around May - Jun we have our birthdays and school holidays, and Nov - Feb we have our family travels and festive celebrations when I tend to let loose on my diet and training more. Doesn't help that I'm a "fast-fat-gainer" too haha... #thatslife

However, he and I are quite xian to not maintain my new baseline for long so this time, we're still going to try harder to even better this and hit a higher target for my body fat recomposition {while keeping muscles} before really trying to concentrate on building my strength again.

This is the second time I did what I call a "fast fat cut" with Superman so things were kicked up a notch these 2 months, especially for my diet, which I'd explain a bit more below.

The challenge was meant to be short, and the calorie deficit I ate for these 2 months are not meant to be long-term so after this I will be slowly increasing my calories again to maintain my new base line and results, while still trying to burn fat at an optimal, albeit probably slower, rate.

The Results
I started the fitness challenge in beginning of Jun 2018 at 59.5kg, 18.2% body fat. At the end of the fitness challenge in late Jul 2018, I weighed 56kg at 16.6% body fat.. this is my lowest body fat composition so far with Superman, as before this, the lowest I reached was only 16.9% in Nov 2017 {before all the end-year holiday feasting and celebrations where I usually gain a few extra kilos hehe}.

The 0.3% may seem minute, but when you are already at a lower body fat percentage {fyi, average healthy women generally have a body fat percentage of 21 - 24%} and have already been training for some time like me, it is harder to lose fat. Simply put, as you lose weight your body attempts to “conserve energy” by slowing down your metabolism and adapting to the changes so that makes those last few kilos of fat even harder to lose. Le sigh.

Throughout the challenge, even though my body fat percentage has decreased, I've somewhat maintained my muscles and my strength has been increasing as seen by my weights progress during my gym workouts. I am still able to increase weights, if not reps, session by session. I even managed to PR my 5x5 weighted chin-ups at 12.75kg, and 1RM weighted chin-up weight at 26kg even though I haven't done heavy chin-ups for a long time.

At my lowest during the challenge, I weighed 55.4kg. So, to be able to lose about 4kg and 1.6% body fat in 2 months while preserving valuable lean muscle mass at my level, wasn't too shabby (´∇οΎ‰`*)γƒŽ

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Gym Workouts
Recently, the boy commented that I haven't been posting much on my gym training. Well, I haven't been doing it on the blog regularly for a couple of reasons {mainly lack of time}, although I post slightly more on Instagram and Facebook so do follow my progress there if interested..

It's not that I'm not proud of whatever progress or #smallwins I have, but it's just that at this moment, I feel better to keep my head down, have less distractions, work hard and smash my goals quietly. Even if there's no applause from anyone but me, Superman and my family, it's ok because at the end of the day I'm doing it for me. To be a healthier, stronger and happier me.

Another reason I don't do weekly or monthly updates like I did when I was in Genesis Gym is because my workout programmes hardly change... so nothing much to report on? haha..

Because of my chronic lower body injuries {back and knee}, and upper body injuries that pop up now and then since I work on them harder due to said lower body injuries, there's a very limited pool of exercises that I can do comfortably, and progress consistently.

Superman thinks very hard before adding in a new exercise for me to try because of my higher risk of getting injured now, so we usually stick to the tried and tested exercises that work for me. It may be boring to some to do the same thing week after week, but if I can still train safely and improve consistently, I'm fine with it. After all, I don't need any fancy or creative workouts.  

By eliminating the excess, we can focus more on the necessary.

Only if I plateau, or if I've overworked or injured somewhere, will he redesign the programmes to adjust to my current body conditions. Anyway, these 2 months I've kept to my training I reckon 98% of the time. Here are my current gym workouts...

Upper Body Workout with the latest weights I've lifted:
A1. Weighted Supinated Chin-Up, 5 sets, 5 reps - 12.75kg
A2. Dumbbells Seated Shoulder Press {Neutral}, 4 sets, 8 reps - 16kg
B1. Pull-Ups, 5 sets, 5-10 reps - Bodyweight
B2. Feet Elevated Push-Ups, 5 sets, 15-20 reps - Body weight
C1. Bicep Curl, 5 sets, 8-12 reps - 7.8kg
C2. Lying Tricep Extension, 5 sets, 8-12 reps - 7.8kg
D. Reverse Hyperextension, 3 sets, 12 reps - 5kg

Lower Body Workout with the latest weights I've lifted:
A1. Front Squat, 5 sets, 8 reps - 48kg
A2. Standing Unilateral Hamstring Curl, 4 sets, 10-12 reps - 4.5kg
B. RDL, 4 sets, 8-10 reps - 58kg
C1. Bulgarian Squat, 4 sets, 10-12 reps - 12.5kg
C2. Bench Glute Hip Thrusts, 4 sets, 12-15kg - 15kg
D. Reverse Hyperextension, 3 sets, 12 reps - 5kg 

Food Nutrition
Although he could, Superman does not give me meal templates to tell me exactly what to eat and when to eat it. This would not work for me as it's too rigid and might be too pressurising to fulfill since I'm not a full-time professional athlete, and I am such a foodie! 

For this challenge, I was supposed to eat 1,300 calories/day. It is lower than what I had to eat for my first "fast fat cut" last year when I targeted to hit 1,450 calories/day, but actually, this round wasn't as grueling.

Maybe it's because I've already gone through one round of cutting, so I know what to expect, how to motivate myself when the going gets tough and how to eat during this period {see my 10 how to meal-prep tips} . Like my workouts, I eliminate the unnecessary and just have simple meals at fixed times most days. Now is not the time to worry or think about variety...

But I also found it not to be as grueling because there was more flexibility involved. Yes I know I said I'd try to eat clean and be 100% consistent with my diet plans for the challenge to see how far it takes me, but it was very hard to really give up all the food I love, even if for just 2 months. I mean... stupid McDonald's came back with their McGriddles {which I love!!} for World Cup 2018, and it's durian season!!! Need I say more?? Plus my office had a few parties and I can't be anti-social, right? #oops

For the first "fast fat cut", I was 98% committed, exceeded my daily calorie intake slightly less than 10x {??} during that 8 weeks period and ate significantly cleaner with much less sugar and junk food. This round, I'd say I was still 95% committed {better than my usual 80-90%}, but I also allowed myself to eat chocolate and junk food like KFC, McGriddles, Hot Cakes, popcorn, ice-cream once or twice a week, and usually within my calorie intake. Even if I went over my daily target, it's maybe still less than 500 cals. Not ideal, but this "moderation" made the lower cals much more tolerable and I feel, sustainable past the challenge period.

Come to think of it, I think this is the best diet I've gone through. In the past, I'd be whining and whinging a lot and getting frustrated over food I'm craving for and sometimes binging on. But this time, I think I've finally got things under control and figured out a way to really eat better, get the nutrition I need and make it work for me.

One thing didn't change though, is that I still hit my daily protein targets at least 98% of the time because I'm so darn scared of losing my muscles hehehe...

Challenge Thoughts
To be honest, I wanted to hit 53kg at the end of the challenge. Superman thought it was highly improbable though and definitely not feasible as the fast weight loss in 2 months probably meant I would also lose muscles, which is not what we want.

The main change to my workouts from my previous cut was that now, I am able to do lower body compound exercises like Squats and RDLs which definitely help me to build more muscles and burn more fat. I still don't do heart-pumping metcons but I do more moderate conditioning like stair-climbs and Assault Airbike cycling.

This probably helped to cancel out the snacks and junk food that I still ate during this period??

Initially I thought 1,300 calories/day was going to be very difficult, but once I focused and allowed myself lee-way to still indulge in my fave food, it really wasn't so bad. Since I started training with Superman, I've learnt various "food hacks" and ways to keep myself full while eating less and even if I overate, I can get back on my diet quicker and without that much guilt. The boy has been very helpful in recommending me high-protein, lower-cal snacks too.

Even with the lower cals, I did not feel any significant weakness during training and recovery rate was still ok. I guess if I really put in 100% in my diet I might have hit 53kg and maybe even 15% body fat composition, but progress is still progress, and I'm happy with what I achieved these 2 months.

As I mentioned above though, this challenge was a "fast fat cut" and I was meant to lose body fat at a faster rate. It is not something to do long-term as trying to lose weight too fast, can expedite loss of muscle - not loss of fat.

Personally, I do prefer these "fast cuts" or "fast gains" as an occasional boost because when a hard diet and/or training period is short, it is easier because you can actually focus to see the finish line and goal date. The faster results are also very encouraging. However, it is much more tedious and straining on the body and mind because you really have to stick to the plan for it to work effectively.

Also, I'd like to highlight as well that I did this challenge under the supervision of Superman, my experienced personal trainer. The program and nutritional diet plan were customised according to my needs and adapted on-the-go {e.g. going on refeeds, or taking longer rests} as my body conditions changed, so please don't follow.

You're welcome to contact me for Superman's details to help you in your fitness goals too. It's of course easier if I can direct you to his website haha but he doesn't have one and I doubt plans on setting one up.  And no, I don't earn any commission for any referrals haha. I just love training with him and am more than happy to recommend him. 

Superman does zero marketing and most of his clients are either people who have worked with him before when he was still in Genesis Gym and liked him so much that they followed him when he started his own business, or referred from current clients via word-of-mouth so I'm not the only one who speaks positively about him for sure (*^▽^*)


One-on-On Personal Training Updates:

Genesis Gym Personal Training Updates:
The Beginning - Signing Up for Personal Training

Friday, July 27, 2018

The Three Bricklayers - Inspirational Parable about Communication & Attitude

I was at a work talk, which was pretty mundane, but at the end the speaker was telling the story of The Three Bricklayers to drive home the idea of having the right attitude and understanding the big picture. Basically the story goes like this,

"Someone saw three men working. He asked the first man what he was doing and the man said he was laying bricks. He asked the second man the same question and he said he was putting up a wall. When he got to the third man and asked him what he was doing he said he was building a cathedral."

They were all doing the same thing. The first man had a job. The second man had a career. The third man had a calling.

At an organisational level, it's important for an employee to know that no matter how small our job is or how insignificant it may seem, we are all laying bricks to build the company up. There is a big picture in our daily actions, and what little we do still makes a difference.

On hearing that parable, I related it more to me being a mum and how I communicate to Lil Pumpkin about her studies, though.

As she progresses through her schooling years, her school load is getting more and more intensive. Every other day, I'm telling her to "study hard", or "do your homework" or "remember your revision" etc. Even I reckon that I sound like a broken record and find it sian to say it over, and over again...

I know Lil Pumpkin is a curious child and likes learning new things, but sometimes schoolwork or listening in class can be boring. Rather than just reminding her on completing the immediate task e.g. learn her spelling or finish her homework, I should remind her to see the end result and focus on the bigger picture i.e. gaining more knowledge, creating a life that she wants, being a useful citizen of the world, having the ability to positively impact others in the future etc.

Maybe then, she would be more self-motivated to strive on completing the challenging tasks at hand without me prompting, and not be disappointed if she has mini set-backs in her schooling journey.

Lil Pumpkin may be laying bricks every day, but if she can envision her own personal "cathedral", she will enjoy her school years more, and grow more through the process. Right? #mummymusings

Friday, July 20, 2018

Sport Climbing / Bouldering Equipment & Gear Shops in Singapore

Now that I have passed my Singapore National Climbing Standards {SNCS} Level 1 cert, I really wanted to make sport-climbing {or rock-climbing as most laymen call it} a regular thing.

And if I was going to do it regularly, I might as well invest in proper equipment to do it properly. My plan was to just get the bare essentials first, then continue to rent other gear from climbing gyms as I slowly build up my arsenal of necessary climbing equipment as I get more experience and exposure.

For your info, most climbers would recommend the following as necessary climbing equipment for sport-climbing beginners:
  • climbing shoes
  • climbing harness
  • chalk
  • chalk-bag
  • carabiners
  • belay device
Knowing what to get isn't difficult. There are many different brands and models out there, so deciding what type and where to get them can be difficult though.

As I get more proficient in sport-climbing I may do more reviews on the equipment & gear I get to help you decide on what type to get for each essential item, but for now I can help you with where to purchase them with this list of  Sport Climbing / Bouldering Equipment & Gear Shops.

It includes brick-and-mortar shops in Singapore, and online shops that deliver to Singapore. I've also included some of the brands each shop carries, especially for harnesses and shoes as those are the bare essentials to get starting out.

I don't think this list is exhaustive, and if you know of any good shops that I should add into my list, feel free to contact me.

1. All Sports Equipment
Add: 52 Ubi Avenue 3 #04-44 Singapore 408867
Tel: +65 6337 7728 / +65 6848 9489
Open: Mon – Fri, 9.30am – 5.30pm
Brands: Five Ten, Butora Petzl, Petzi

2. Backcountry {online, based in USA}
Brands: Petzl, Cypher, La Sportiva, Black Diamond, Maxim, North Face, Blue Water, Five Ten

3. Campers’ Corner
Add: 51 Waterloo Street, #01-01, Singapore 187969
Tel: 6337 4743
Open: Mon – Sat, 12pm – 8pm. Closed on Eves, CNY, Christmas & New Year
Brands: Arc’teryx, Singing Rock, La Sportiva, Mad Rock

4. Crank Factory {online, based in Singapore, aka Climb Asia on IG}
Add: Frontier Building, 52 Ubi Ave 3 #05-31, Singapore 408867 {visit by appointment only}
Tel: 6747 5473
Brands: Ocun, Roca, Bluewater, Trango, Metolius, La Sportiva, EB, Evolv, So iLL
*Self-collection available at Frontier Building

5. Gear Express {online, based in USA}
Brands: DMM, Edelweiss, CAMP, Black Diamond, La Sportiva, Beal, Blue Water, Five Ten

6. Gorilla Gym Shop {mini All Sports Equipment}
Add: 750B Chai Chee Road Viva Business Park, #01-02 Singapore 469002
Tel: +65 6243 0386
Open: Mon closed, Tue – Fri 2pm – 8pm, Weekends 11pm – 6pm
Brands: Five Ten, Butora Petzl, Petzi
*beside the multi-storey carpark and behind Harvey Norman

7. Ground Up Climbing Gym Shop {NOT former Climb Asia shop}
Add: 60 Tessensohn Rd C/o Civil Service Club, Singapore 217664
Open: Mon 5pm – 11pm, Tue – Sun 12pm – 9pm
Brands: La Sportiva, Ocun, Evolv
8. Kinetics Climbing Gym Shop
Add: 511 Serangoon Road, Singapore 218153
Tel: 6291 5045
Open: Mon 4pm-10pm, Tue – Fri 1pm – 10pm, Weekends 10-7pm
Brands: Edelweiss, La Sportiva, Red Chilli, Scarpa, Wild Country

9. Mountain Equipment Co-op {online, based in Canada}
Brands: Edelrid, Black Diamond, Arc'teryx, Mammut, Petzl, Beal, La Sportiva, Scarpa, Evolv

10. Outdoor Kaki
Add: 11 Woodlands Close, #05-27, Woodlands 11, Singapore 737853
Tel: 9181 2893
Open:  Mon – Fri 9am – 6pm {contact them to visit at other times}
Brands: ClimbX, Salewa, Kailas

11. Outdoor Life
Add: Novena Square #02-60/67, 238 Thomson Rd / Plaza Singapura #04-18B/30/31
Tel: 6255 4814 / 6904 4726
Open: Sun – Thu 11am – 9pm, Fri – Sat 11am – 9.30pm {Novena} / Daily 10am – 10pm {Plaza Singapura}
Brands: Black Diamond

12. REI Co-op {online only, based in USA}
Brands: Black Diamond, La Sportiva, Evolv, Five Ten, So iLL, Scarpa, Tenaya, Petzl

13. Rock, Stock and Barrel {online, based in Singapore, also Onsight Climbing Gym Shop}
Add: Onsight Climbing Gym, 100 Guillemard Road, Guillemard Village, Singapore 399718
Tel: 6348 8272
Open: Mon – Fri 11am – 10.30pm, Weekends 10am – 9pm
Brands: Ocun, Ophir, Zephir, Tenaya
*Self-collection available at Onsight Climbing Gym

14. Sierra Trading Post {online, based in USA}
Brands:  CAMP, Black Diamond, Mad Rock, Edelrid, So iLL, Evolv, Five Ten, Scarpa, Cypher

15. Steep and Cheap {online, based in USA}
Brands: Black Diamond, Wild Country, La Sportiva, Mammut, Salewa, Metolius, Blue Water 

16. Trekkinn {online, based in Spain}
Brands: Arc'teryx, Salewa, Black Diamond, Mammut, La Sportiva, Scarpa, Ocun, Wild Country 


As with all sports, it's important to build up your strength and endurance levels to perform better, so gym time is definitely needed. Do check out my list of Home Gym & Fitness Equipment Shops in Singapore if you want to work out at home, and follow my Fitness Diary posts here or on Instagram {#AiFitnessDiary}.

If you need someone who can help you to plan your exercise program according to whatever equipment you have and your individual needs, motivate you and make sure that you're keeping to proper forms and techniques, I'd of course recommend my personal trainer, Superman, whom I've been training with for 2+ years.

*Note: This is not a paid review or advertorial. All opinions are my own. 

Friday, July 13, 2018

Singapore National Climbing Standards {SNCS} Level 1 Certificate Course Experience

I had my first taste of rock-climbing back in University while the boy and I were studying in Australia. That was about 15 years ago?? Wow.

Back then, one of our friends, Felix, found a nice indoor rock-climbing place at Northbridge and introduced the sport to us. Sometimes we went as a group, other times the boy and I went just as a couple thing. We both found it fun and went pretty regularly. The boy was so into it that he soon bought his own shoes, harness, chalk bag etc haha...

At that rock-climbing gym, we didn't need to have any certification to help belay one another - just had to learn how to do it with the easy-to-use safety set-ups, much like the ones you see in Climb Central.

However, when we came back to Singapore, we realised that in most rock-climbing gyms, you need to have at least Singapore National Climbing Standards {SNCS} Level 1 Certificate to belay and climb. Especially if you want to climb outdoors.

Since we didn't do it regularly anymore, and also since the boy injured his shoulders which meant that he doesn't do it at all for now, we made do with just going to those gyms like Climb Central or Clip 'N Climb where there was auto-belay walls where Lil Pumpkin & I could climb on our own, and set-ups where I could help Lil Pumpkin belay even if I didn't have the SNCS L1 Cert.

γ‚ˆγƒΌγ—!I get an immense sense of satisfaction from overcoming the challenges of scaling the tall walls ( ᐛ )و

It's not just challenging physically, but also mentally as well as you need the mental endurance to not give up even when you're tired and stuck, and mental alertness to problem-solve and plan your best route to get to the top.

As a sport, it also promotes muscular strength and aerobic endurance too so it complements my gym training as well. Superman says it's a good activity for me to burn more calories and if I do it more often, my grip strength will definitely get better haha..

Last month, I finally got off my arse and went for the SNCS L1 Certificate course so that I could belay and climb more independently in more of the local rock-climbing gyms with some other friends who are interested in rock-climbing as well °˖✧◝(⁰▿⁰)◜✧˖°

Here's what to expect in case you're interested in doing it yourself...

SNCS Level 1 is a beginner’s introduction to climbing. No prior climbing experience is required, but it is of course good to have climbed before so that you have a better understanding of what the instructor's are saying.

This is a top-rope certification course {7hrs full day session with 1 lunch break, or 2 x 3.5hrs half-day sessions}. It will introduce you to the basics of the sport - such as equipment, checking procedures, and climbing calls, but the main objective is to teach you how to:
  1. safely use a harness, rope and belay device,
  2. tie a figure-of-8 knot, and 
  3. belay a climber using the 5-step belay technique
As you can see from the syllabus, the course will go through 7 sections of basic climbing where participants will learn:
  1. what sport-climbing {top-rope and bouldering} is,
  2. the correct usage, proper care & limitations of climbing safety equipment,
  3. basic climbing safety knots,
  4. how to safely belay a climber using the 5-step belay technique, 
  5. basic climbing techniques,
  6. practical top-rope climbing, and
  7. final assessment and course review
Note: You need to be 13 years or older to take the course, so unfortunately Lil Pumpkin couldn't do it with me now. She'll have to wait a few more years, and participants under 21 must have a guardian of over 21 to sign on their behalf.

The SNCS Level 1 Certificate Course is standardised and conducted by most of the popular rock-climbing gyms in Singapore e.g. Kinetics, Onsight Climbing, Gorilla Gym, The Rock School etc. by Singapore Mountaineering Federation certified instructors. You can go over to their websites to have a look at their course schedules but they are usually conducted every month over the weekends.

The course costs about S$65-75 and is usually cheaper if you are a gym member.

If you pass the course, you would be issued with the life-long SNCS Sport Climbing Level 1 certificate {card-sized}, accredited by the Singapore Mountaineering Federation.

There's no need for any renewal and after that, you can go on to take the Level 2 {learn how to lead climb and lead belay} and Level 3 {learn techniques of climbing bolted multi-pitch routes safely}.

But that's not the end though...

Some gyms also require you to be further verified to use their premises even if you do have a SNCS Level 1 certificate. Maybe they don't trust it?? haha..

During the SNCS Level 1 course, you will learn how to belay using an ATC {Air Traffic Controller} belay device. However, if you wish to belay using a belay device attached to your harness and climb at Ground Up, Climb Central & Onsight Climbing premises, you need to know how to belay using an ABD {Assisted Breaking Device} belay device as they only allow those belay devices there.

Sooooo... if you wish to climb at those 3 popular gyms, you will need to be ABD verified after you receive your SNCS Level 1 cert. This requires further assessment and costs S$10/pax. After passing verification, you will receive a Verification tag that is recognised at Ground Up, Climb Central & Onsight Climbing as the test requirements are the same.

In Gorilla Gym, you can use either an ATC or ABD belay device, but you still need to be verified that you have the skills and competency to climb & belay and pass to be issued the Verification tag. The verification assessment is free and can be done on-the-spot though.

If you pay attention to what's taught during the course day, it should be easy to pass (*^▽^)/

I won't say exactly where I took my SNCS Level 1 course as I reckon it could have been conducted better so won't recommend it to others. Although the instructors were friendly and we had adequate practice time, instructions on how to tie the figure-of-8 knot was a little sketchy and they didn't touch on different types of climbing and basic climbing techniques.

I mean, I already kinda knew how to rock-climb {albeit inefficiently?? haha} and had also tried bouldering before, but there were people in my class who had no rock-climbing experience. Since it's in the syllabus {but not tested}, would have been good to have been taught about the effective use of handholds & footholds, and perhaps tips on how to overcome different wall configurations.

Also, although the cost of the course was supposed to cover equipment rental cost, we were only loaned the harness and belay devices and we didn't get to climb with proper climbing shoes - just our own covered shoes. I think courses conducted at other gyms let you use their harnesses, belay devices and climbing shoes. 

I would have also liked if they touched on where you can find rock-climbing equipment, what brands they personally like, how to choose your equipment, and introduce community groups on how we can meet other like-minded and experienced climbers. Would have been good to share to beginner climbers like myself, no?

I did ask, but their answers were too general and inadequate. I didn't want to probe further due to lack of time and perhaps they didn't want to "sell" anything or show favoritism to any shops?

Anyway, I joined some online community groups who were eager to spread their knowledge, and I did a fair bit of research on what I should get, and where I should get them.

Will share more in my next rock-climbing post so stay tuned!! ( ◞・ΰ±ͺ・)

P.S. If you're interested, check out my experience taking the CrossFit Level 1 Trainer Course in Singapore too!! Yes, I passed that!! hehehe...

One-on-On Personal Training Updates:

Genesis Gym Personal Training Updates:
The Beginning - Signing Up for Personal Training