Faith Tid-ang entered the BodyBlitz challenge to find the motivation she lost during a student exchange, but she didn’t expect to discover washboard abs in the process!
After coming back from student exchange and finishing university, I went into holiday mode. As a new graduate with loads of free time, life involved catching up with friends and family and this meant many outings involving food! Midnight junk food snacks were common and my sisters and I would drive anywhere that was open late at night. While that was fun, it was doing my body more harm than good.
Along the way, there were many signs that I shrugged off or ignored. I had to purchase new clothing because many items in my wardrobe were tight fitting or not fitting at all. One event that hit me personally was during an urban dance class and realising that after just 10 minutes I was out of breath. It was at this point I realised how unfit I was and how low energy was getting in the way of me doing something I love. I wanted to re-claim my busy, bubbly, energetic self. Sometimes a due date and some strict competition rules are exactly what you need as a kick-start.
Personally, it was a predominantly mental challenge. The exercise and eating regime in order to get to where I wanted required consistency and a lot of discipline. There were many moments where I wanted to give up, or questioned what I was doing or doubted my results. I had to continually motivate myself before and during a gym session, fight temptation and force myself to be asleep by a certain time. Of course, I don’t always listen to my own advice, but these were the moments where I had to dig deep and remind myself I’m doing this for me.
Structuring my diet posed a challenge and I am still exploring this today. To begin with, I wasn’t sure how much to cut my intake without slowing my metabolism down too much. It was difficult to know whether I was eating too little or too much. I tried to listen to what my body told me and observed how I reacted to the fluctuation of kilojoule intake and different food types. I was constantly researching and sometimes found there were contradictions in theories and gaps in information. To mitigate the confusion, I tried not to get caught up with detail and stuck to the basics.
The balance between having a life and being disciplined was definitely a tough one. In the beginning, I made a pact to myself to minimise the social activities that were not conducive to my current lifestyle. At the same time, I didn’t want to miss any big life events. I might be dieting, but people still get married and have birthdays and they want to be able to celebrate by eating, drinking and staying up late! This meant I needed to plan ahead and be prepared. I can still attend social events and have a good time, I just needed to be smart about my choices and do things in moderation.
The idea of entering a transformation challenge and thinking about the after photograph was enough motivation in the beginning. Of course, this wavered with time as I got sick of counting kilojoules, became lazy and the workouts became more intense. It is ideal to have weapons to whip out when down, so I armed myself beforehand with the following tips. Take time to bask in that amazing post-workout feeling so next time you can look forward to the prize waiting for you at the end. Secondly, choose mantras and slogans (or even memes!) that mean something to you. These come in handy for the tough times when you really need to dig deep to complete a set. Know what pumps you up. For me, music really works. I once sat in my car outside the gym for five minutes with the music blaring so I could get into the right mindset; it worked! Setting an exercise schedule and a food plan each week is also very helpful. The set structure means that it becomes habitual and I don’t solely rely on motivation.
Monday: Boxercise + weights (upper)
Tuesday: HIIT cardio
Wednesday: Weights (legs)
Thursday: Weights (arms) + Hot yoga
Despite sounding obvious, I needed to remind myself that results take time. It is easy to get disheartened by the length of time it takes to achieve a goal. Instead of despairing over this, I’ve learnt to celebrate the milestones that I have reached. There were many times when I’ve gotten frustrated, but I only had to look at my arms and legs and see that definition is starting to happen. I had to trust the process, that my hard work is working and that my body knows what it is doing. I am the fittest I have been for a long time and I think that achievement outweighs the time it will take me to get to the next goal.
I would say the student life poses many challenges to healthy living. There are many factors that can limit being healthy – the party culture, budget, high stress levels, particularly during assessment periods, and busy timetables. I found it very difficult to have any regularity in exercising or consistency in my eating while I was a student. Now that I am working full time, I can work around a solid schedule and the regular hours also help with maintaining a routine. It’s a very different lifestyle!
Nowadays, I am a lot more energetic, I feel lighter and definitely stronger. During the challenge, an opportunity to perform and dance at a wedding came up and I took it! I was not out of breath during training and this definitely made the experience a lot more enjoyable. I feel fitter and it’s really liberating. It’s so nice to be dancing again.
I have friends who are also improving their fitness and it is so rewarding to be able to offer advice from this experience. I also want to be an influence in my family’s lifestyle. I want to encourage healthy eating and promote regular exercise. We can still enjoy each other’s company without going overboard with the food runs!
Breakfast: Oats/peanut butter/banana
Snack: Green shake (kale/spinach/pear)
Lunch: Brown rice/two cans of tuna/salad
Snack: Cottage cheese/quarter avocado
Dinner: Steamed vegetables/grilled chicken tenderloins
Supper: Protein shake
This challenge has also opened my eyes to potentially joining the fitness industry. I am considering attaining formal qualifications for group fitness because I enjoyed the classes so much. I want to share this lighter, happier, healthier feeling with the rest of the world.