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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Making Sense of Trap Lifts, TRX & Med Ball Slams | Operation 健康アップ Week 9

If you go to a "pro" {or non-commercial} gym for the first time, you'd probably be wondering why gym users need to use some absurd equipment in their workouts. I mean, why do you have sailor ropes there with no boats?? Or is it snowing? Why's there a sledge otherwise??!

And do you really need so many different ways to train a specific muscle group??

Gym Workouts
I went in as usual on Monday and Friday. Monday was really busy so I was under a few trainers for the whole session, and on Friday Justin trained and taught me my new workout program. I got to try out some new and weird-to-me equipment...

A1. Barbell Deadlift {Double Progression}, 4 sets, 6 reps - 51kg
A2. Flat Dumb-bell Bench Press {Pronating, Double Progression}, 6 reps - 14 + 13kg
B1. Trap Bar Deadlift, 3-4 sets, 6 reps - 50kg
B2. Leg Press, 3-4 sets, 12 reps - 40kg
B3. Dumb-bell Lunges {6" box}, 3-4 sets, 12 each leg - 7kg
C1. Dumb-bell Chest Supported Row to Chest {Pronating}, 3-4 sets, 6 reps - 10kg
C2. Incline Ring Row, 3-4 sets, 12 reps - bodyweight
C3. Med Ball Slam {changed to Battling Ropes} - 60sec

The Trap Bar certainly fell into the "weird-to-me"category of gym equipment. The what?? Yes, it's a bar in the shape of a trapezium and to use it you've to step inside and pull it up with weights on both side.

I felt like I was wearing one of those big, poofy Victorian gowns when I stepped in, and had to pull up my "skirt", except that this skirt was reaaaaally heavy and made of metal. So awkward. It took a lot of tries getting used to it and again, thanks for your patience Justin.

Then there was the Med Ball Slam, a medicine-ball-bouncing-exercise thing but sorry, Ai has no hand-ball co-ordination whatsoever. I played water polo for a while but other than that, I really suck at ball games. After a few embarrassing tries, Justin changed my exercise to Battling Ropes {the sailor ropes I mentioned above}. It was not as tough as when I first tried it out, but it was still tiring.

Oh one important gym milestone for me was that I finally went into the racks area. It's at the left-most side of the gym and I usually stay away as I don't have any exercises to do there. It seems only hard-core weight-lifters use the racks but I have to go in now to use the leg press machine. Made me feel like I'm a "big girl" and not such a pro gym noob anymore since I can use the machines there hahahaha.

Find it quite "dangerous" though as there's weight bars criss-crossed in and out of the various racks. It's like a booby-trap of sorts. I swear I'm going to walk into one of them one day !(◎_◎;)

Friday's session went by pretty slowly as I had to get used to getting good form with the new equipment and I only managed to complete 2 sets of Super Set B and C, instead of the required 3-4. I shall try to train faster {but with good form!!} this week and complete at least 3 sets.

Home Workouts
I went to workout at the club gym on Wednesday with my old workout and received the new home workout program on Friday. Justin didn't have time to take me through it but he said it's all right to still use each workout for 8-10 sessions, as long as you can still progress with the weights.

This is my previous home workout plan with weights I'm using:
A1. Leg Press, 4 sets, 8 reps - 245 pounds {111.1kg}
A2. Walking Lunges, 4 sets, 16 on each leg - 5kg
B1. Supinated Lat Pulldown, 4 sets, 8 reps - 75pounds {34kg}
B2. Dumb-bell Chest Supported Row to Chest, 4 sets, 16 reps - 8kg
C. Declined Crunches, 3 sets, 15 reps

I skipped Saturday's workout though as my back and neck were extremely sore. Really uncomfortably so and I didn't want to aggravate them further so decided rest was the best option.

This is a very good article on recuperation and muscle growth. Basically recuperation is your body's ability to recover after exercise. The quicker the recovery, the quicker strength and mass gains will come. It is just as important as working out and eating well. If you neglect to listen to your body's warning signs of possible over-training, and if you do not get enough rest {this not only includes sleep but also relaxation times} then you will not grow. Strength and muscle gains {or fat losses!} take place during rest periods - outside the gym.

I guess Sunday's DC Justice League 5km Fun Run made up for me skipping my workout the day before too :P Used the boy's EMS machines over the weekend again to focus on my trapezius muscle and it felt much better after 2 days.

Food Nutrition
Not much changes to my diet for the week. On Sunday I had some time to make our fave Roast Chicken Greek Salad and enjoyed that lots. Yum yum. Lil Pumpkin eats that too except for the olives and onions. She says the onions is kinda "spicy" heh.

Angie asked what's the macronutrient {or "macros"} targets I'm supposed to hit and I realised I haven't written it down yet. Firstly, macros primarily refer to carbs, fats, and proteins—the three basic components of every diet. If you get their proportions right, it makes healthy eating / dieting a lot more effective. Jen has also asked me to pay attention to my fiber too for a number of reasons. As mentioned before, as much as possible, I try to track this with My Fitness Pal app.

Based on Jen's recommendations, I've to hit 122g of protein, 123g carbs and 25g of fiber daily within 1,200g of calories. I usually have problems hitting 122g of protein, so try to hit at least 95g per day which is mostly, doable with protein shakes and bars.

My current fave protein bar is Quest Bar Cookies and Cream. Delicious! It is gluten-free, 17g of fibre, 21g of protein but has only 1g of sugar!

Thoughts of the Week
With 3 weeks left in the program, it's about time to think about whether I'd like to renew my gym membership. Genesis Gym offers a 25% discount for clients who continue with them. If I sign up for another 12 weeks with 2 sessions/ week, it would be S$1395. Alternatively, if I take up unlimited sessions for the next 12 weeks, it would be $1890.

Unlimited sessions is of course a better deal but time-wise, I don't think I can commit more than twice a week to make it down there. Twice a week is already slightly strenuous on our family schedule. I like training there and I do think there's more improvements I can make but will see how after I discuss with the boy. There are other factors to consider as well.


Monday, August 31, 2015

Bub & Me: Singapore's First DC Justice League Superheroes Run!

It seemed as if a whole galaxy of superheroes landed in Singapore yesterday at our country's first ever DC Justice League Run!!

Every other month {week??} there's a fun and exciting run happening in Singapore and it makes me so delighted to know that there's such interesting options available to get the whole family together to run and stay healthy together. Last year the boy had no qualms joining me in the meccha kawaii Hello Kitty Run last year, so even though I'm not really a comic superhero fan, I was excited to sign up with him for the DC Justice League Run too!

But I mean, who can resist dressing up as a Superhero and strutting around with some "super powers"??!

There were 5 DC Comics Superhero teams to choose from, and each runner's race kit will include a special gear based on the Superhero you want to represent {in addition to a draw-string haversack bag, race tank-top and some vouchers}.

Runners can be a part of Team Superman, taking the Last Son of Krypton to greater heights than ever, or strike fear into their competition like the Dark Knight and run for Team Batman. They can also join Diana, the Amazon Princess, and take on the run as part of Team Wonder Woman or have the willpower to complete the race and join the intergalactic Green Lantern Corps as part of Team Green Lantern. Lastly, they could also join Team Flash to perhaps end the age old debate of who is the fastest!

I'm not a particular fan of any but I wanted Superman's cape so I joined Team Superman, while the boy chose Team Green Lantern and Lil Pumpkin wanted to be in Team Flash because of the red mask hahahaha. Yeah.. she's as practical as I am (●→‿ฺ←●)

Unlike most runs we've attended where all runners receive the same event T-shirt, the complimentary race tank top of the DC Justice League Run matches the team you represent too. Very nice!!

Kids aged 3-12 receive a cute T-shirt with a picture of all the Superheroes in action and are unable to choose these tank tops.

This is the 5km race route around Sentosa island, which started near Beach Station. You can click here to see a bigger picture.

We ran around Sentosa for the first time last year for the Hello Kitty Run but this time it was soooo much more enjoyable since it wasn't raining!! Absolutely gorgeous weather to be on our State of Fun! ( ノ^ω^)ノ゚

Flag-off time was 8am so we decided to park at Beach Station. We could get free entry into Sentosa by flashing our race bibs at the gantry {usual price S$7/car weekends} and we arrived about 6.45am.

I was quite worried that we were too late and there won't be any parking lots left!! Luckily there was about 40 lots available when we arrived. Phew!! We left about 9.45am and paid S$7 for parking.

Since we arrived early, we had time to walk the Carnival ground first and take photos with the many cool backgrounds!! Very insta-worthy hahaha. It wasn't that crowded so early before the event either so didn't have to wait long for each photo booth...

I think for our future family runs, we'd arrive earlier to check out the Carnival grounds before the runs start too since since usually, by the time we finish our runs, the Carnival grounds are extremely packed and it's so hard to take photos there!

About 7.30am we made our way to the start line. Apparently there were more than 5,000 Superhero runners at the event! I loved seeing everyone being so sporting and dressing up in their team's colours and gears. Some even went all the way out and put on costume make-up and the full body-suits!

Massive, massive crowd but everyone waited patiently for their turn. After waiting for about 30 mins, we could finally see the start line!! Heard the DJ say we were in the 3rd wave.

Yay managed to snap a quick shot with the DC Superheroes at the start line hehe (*´꒳`*)

Lil Pumpkin was raring to go and started to run as soon as the boy put her down!!

We started joining family runs when Lil Pumpkin was about 3-4 years old {our first one was at Safari Zoo Run 2013} and for us, it's not so much as competing to be the fastest, but more about having fun and spending quality time together while exercising.

We would normally bring along her stroller mainly because we don't expect her to walk/run the whole way and it would be even more tiring/ stressful if we had to carry her. Also, we have a lot of barang barang like snacks, extra water, ponchos etc. that's just more convenient to dump under her stroller and in case of inclement weather {this has happened a few times before!}, it's much easier to keep her safe and dry inside while the boy and I continue with our route since we don't mind walking/running in the rain.

However, Lil Pumpkin showed some of her own super powers and this run was the first time that Lil Pumpkin completed the 5km all by herself!! #achievementunlocked Oh my oh my!! She ran and walked all by herself without sitting in her stroller or asking to be carried even once and this race route was not an easy one for a young child. There were many uphills and turns which left even us adults huffing and puffing from exhaustion.

The boy and I are extremely proud of her tenacity and strength. It's a huge progress but I should have seen it coming though as for the past few runs, she has been walking/running more and more. Her weekly swimming classes have also probably helped develop her strength and endurance too. 

I guess this means we won't need to bring her stroller for future fun runs anymore ☆d(^U^d)

Our family tradition - taking photos with all the route markers haha...

Nearly missed the 4km marker that was on the opposite side of the road of the race route, near the second water station.

There were only 2 water stations in this run and although this is manageable, I think they should have had more, especially since it's a family fun run with so many young kids and older folks taking part. It was really hot and easy to get dehydrated. If I'm not wrong, I remember there's usually around 3-4 in a 5km fun run.

What I really enjoyed about the run though was the opportunity to see a different side of Sentosa because how often do you get to be there so early in the morning??

We also got to explore some trails that we've never been on before and discover new sights and beauty of the island. Made me feel so grateful once again to be able to live in such a peaceful, clean and breath-taking country with my family.

Finally finished our 5km Fun Run in about 1 hours time!!! Lil Pumpkin ran ahead of us so couldn't get her in this shot (^‿^✿)

Happy with our exclusive finisher's medals!! You definitely earned this one Lil Pumpkin!! #proudmama

Have a quick look at our run in this short clip! If it isn't showing properly, watch the video on my YouTube channel here.

I'm not sure if the DC Justice League Run will be back again next year, but do keep updated via the DC Justice League Run Singapore website and Facebook page. It was very well-coordinated and everything was a breeze from start to end. Hassle-free FUN for the whole family.. which is what we parents always look for, right?? :P

Also check out the rest of our Bub & Me activities or list of kid-friendly places in Singapore!!


Sunday, August 30, 2015

Don't Stress Over Prenatal Care - AXA Family Advantage

Pregnancy is a time of joy and excitement, but sometimes, it can also bring about worries too, especially when you think about the cost it takes to give birth and raise a child.

It was 6 years ago when I first became a mum, but I can still remember my pregnancy days carrying Lil Pumpkin quite clearly. I'd left my job in Japan and came back to Singapore to be amongst family and friends when I gave birth, and although I had a comfortable time staying at home preparing for Lil Pumpkin's arrival and setting up our home for 3, there was a nagging thought at the back of my mind since I wasn't earning any income.

The boy had a stable job with Medisave, and I had my savings from my previous work, but would it be enough to cover the prenatal care, medical and hospital bills? What if Lil Pumpkin had a health condition *touch wood* and needed extra medical attention?? Or what if I needed an emergency cesarean operation? I heard those were really expensive!!

Continuous, high levels of anxiety could have affected Lil Pumpkin since the stress hormone cortisol can cross the placenta and influence the building blocks of her emotional development. Thank goodness she turned out to be a big bundle of sunshine but I wish I knew then what I know now about prenatal insurances like AXA Family Advantage to lessen the pregnancy stress I had!

AXA has unveiled a first-of-its-kind pre-natal plan package, AXA Family Advantage, to allow couples, when expecting a child, the flexibility to select from 8 different types of protection, savings and investment plans for themselves to prepare for the responsible role of being parents.

With it, the cost of medical treatments arising from pregnancy complications and hospitalisation of the newborn baby will be eased and it also provides financial support if the baby is diagnosed with congenital illness... this covered the parts that I was afraid of! Complications such as emergency Caesarean sections, premature births, as well as birth defects often require greater medical care and a longer hospital stay, which can send bills soaring. In such cases, AXA Family Advantage can really help to cover the gap left by Medisave and ease the financial burden.

The plan simultaneously offers pre-natal coverage for an expectant mother, and subsequently when the child is born, the parents can choose to insure their child in a straightforward process with no health questions asked. Even after the childbirth, parents also continue to benefit from the plan by growing their savings nest egg to retire happily or building their investment portfolio.

It's convenient to purchase the AXA Family Advantage plan during pregnancy {between 16 and 36 weeks}, and if you're carrying more than one foetus in the pregnancy, benefits will be applied to cover each child individually for up to 3 or 6 years.

If you're interested, find out more information from this online AXA Family Advantage brochure or visit AXA website for details. It'll be good to have a prenatal insurance like this to cover all the pregnancy "what-ifs".

In conjunction with the launch of this new plan, AXA has been running a radio contest on Class 95's Muttons in the Morning show {Mondays - Fridays, 6 to 10 am}. Participants stand a chance to win a home cleaning session courtesy of the AXA Daddy Rescue team who will mop, clean, wipe and even sing Acapella for you!

If the video above isn't working, please see the talented {and hilarious!} AXA Singapore Singing Daddies here. They are sure to bring a smile to your face while getting your home spotless for your family ╲(。◕‿◕。)╱

This is the last week of the radio contest so don't miss it!! To join, simply

1. Tune in to Class 95FM's Muttons in the Morning radio show

2. SMS your entries to 7677: AXA <space> Your Name <space> NRIC <space> Reason you should win. The most creative reason wins!

3. Tune in on Fri 4 Sep 2015 to check if you are a lucky winner :)

Do note that the home visits by the AXA Daddy Rescue team are only on 5 Sep and 12 Sep.

{Capella sea-view room}

All participants of AXA Daddy Rescue will also automatically qualify for the grand prize of a weekend 2 Day 1 Night “Babycation” at Capella, Sentosa, worth S$2,000. What a treat!

{Capella pools}
This allows soon-to-be or existing parents to have private couple time, before their baby pops or without their kids. If you've always wanted some "we-time" alone without the kids, this is your chance!! :P The results for this grand prize will be out on 18 Sep 2015.

Good luck to everybody taking part!

*Disclosure: This is a sponsored advertorial for AXA Singapore, and all opinions are my own. The content is not presented by an insurance or healthcare expert and is for informational purpose only.


Friday, August 28, 2015

Celebrating Mid-Autumn Festival with Hello Kitty + WIN Kawaii Mooncakes Box Set

Hello Kitty Mooncakes for Mid-Autumn Festival? Whatever will they think of next??~

If you've been around long enough, you'll probably know that I'm a Hello Kitty-lover.

I'm not so hardcore like last time and no, I won't queue hours just to get her soft toy or get a tattoo of her face but there's something about that white Japanese bobtail with a red bow that sets my heart a-flutter.

Perhaps it's because I can look back on Hello Kitty as a familiar reminder of my childhood or that she brings out the innocent girl in me that makes me feel so young and fresh... but she certainly has a way of making me want to get my hand on her kawaii collectibles, which is a lot since almost everything about her is sooooooo cuteeeeee!!!

I probably have enough Hello Kitty stuff to complete 52 Weeks of Hello Kitty for a Wordless Wednesday series twice over haha..

I'm really thrilled that BreadTalk has a new Hello Kitty Limited Edition Mooncake Box Set for Mid-Autumn Festival 2015! This year's Hello Kitty mooncake collection comes in an adorable, eye-catching red case, which can be used as a makeup kit after you’ve enjoyed the delish Hello Kitty-motif traditional mooncakes.

The red Hello Kitty makeup toolbox case is compact, yet pretty sturdy even though it's made of cardboard. There’s even a built-in mirror – “purrfect” for ladies who appreciate all things bright and beautiful!

I  think sometimes character food can taste kinda awful as they rely too much on the cute designs and packaging to sell and attract fans.

However, thank goodness the mooncakes is pretty appetising and even the boy, who is even pickier with his food, agreed that the crust was crisp and not too thick/ hard, and the lotus paste was rich and smooth. The lotus paste gives a lingering flavor, and the sweet fragrance fills your mouth after each bite. So basically the mooncakes are cute and delicious! #winning

This limited edition range consists of two pieces each of the Lotus with Macadamia, Lotus with Cranberries, and BreadTalk-exclusive Lotus with Yolk Blend mooncakes. Each box set costs S$59.80 and is available at all BreadTalk outlets island-wide from now until 27 September 2015.

They are not sold individually but are individually wrapped and packed in it's own Hello Kitty paper box, so you can still buy a box and share with family and friends. Good for those {like me!!} who are watching their diet but still can't resist getting the box set :P

Just for my own special friends & blog readers, I've TWO Hello Kitty Limited Edition Mooncake Box Set {worth S$59.80} to give away!! Each comes in the exclusive red case, 6 pieces of individually wrapped Hello Kitty mooncakes and a pair of metal petite fork & knife set.

Giveaway Method: Random Draw

1. Be a Sakura Haruka Facebook page fan

2. Subscribe to my upcoming newsletter. Make sure the email add you used to subscribe is working as I'll be using that to contact the winner. Remember to confirm the subscription and check your junk folder in case the confirmation email goes there.

3. Like & Share this Facebook photo and tag 3 friends. Make sure your post is public!

4. Leave me a blog comment telling me what's your fave Mid-Autumn Festival activity + FB name you used to like the page + name you used to subscribe to the newsletter. For those unsure of how to comment, choose "Name/URL" option then add your name and comment.

Bonus entry:
1. Follow me on Instagram {@AiSakuraHaruka}
2. Repost this photo on IG & tag @AiSakuraHaruka #ASHxHelloKittygiveaway #BreadTalkSG + your FB name. Make sure your post is public!

TWO random winners will be chosen. Just complete all 4 simple steps + bonus entry {if you like}!

* Open to Singapore residents only.
* Ends Sunday 6 Sep 2015 2359hrs {Singapore time} 
* Incomplete or inappropriate entries will be deemed invalid and will not be included.
* Winners will be announced by Wednesday 9 August 2015 on this blog post and notified via email with further instructions on how to collect prize. Winners have 2 days to reply, or the prize will be redrawn.

P.S. My Glitter Glam giveaway to celebrate our 7th marriage anniversary last week is still on! 7 winners for S$70 worth of vouchers each! Do pop by if you're looking for new ladies or girls-wear. Ends Sun 30 Aug 2015.

* Disclosure: Hello Kitty Mooncakes Box Sets were provided by BreadTalk Singapore for review and giveaway.