Before & Before photos

Finally started to take some proper photos of my body to see if there’s any change after slogging to all those YouTube fitness videos.

There’s just a month between these photos below, but I was still hoping to discern some difference.

Left: 1st May, Right: 1st June

The more I stare at it the more I *think* I can see an itsy bitsy just teeny weeny bit difference, but maybe it’s just wishful thinking in my head.

That, or it could be the lighting. I couldn’t get the same lighting as they couldn’t be shot in the same place. The photo on the right was taken yesterday in the hotel room I am in now for my quarantine.

And maybe I was also sucking in my stomach extra hard 😂.

Let’s not call this “Before & After”. Let’s just call it ‘Before – Part 1 & Before – Part 2” instead. Let’s hope the next one will be a proper Before & After instead of involving a Before – Part 3.

But you know what, f**k it, this is my journey.

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The fun revelation though is the big difference lighting can make. Check out the photo below I took in a different part of the room. I actually almost look buff here! If I squint really hard I can make out the beginnings of a bicep. All just because the light from the window hits me on my side, not front. Crazy.

Moving into the bathroom next, even the photo in there makes my body look a bit better than what it looks like in real life. Lighting really is everything. Yes okay I’m still sucking in my belly like crazy, but you know what I mean.

Hello, bathroom selfie! Pleased to make your acquaintance, I’ve heard so much about you. Let’s be friends. 🤮 🤭

By the way I’m not showing my face in these shots because I’m shy, I mean vain. If I achieve a nice body one day God willing, maybe I’ll be happy to attach my face to it. Maybe.

105 Burpees a day for 30 days

I hated burpees for a long time! Because they’re so damn hard. But yesterday I just finished 30 consecutive days of 105 burpees a day. Months ago I would find that crazy unbelievable so I’m happy about it.

It’s made possible by a YouTube fitness trainer I’ve been following called Jordan Yeoh, who cleverly sneaked in 105 burpees at the last part of the last day of his 21-day fitness challenge, which I wrote about here.

It was clever because if he had said before that there was going to be 100 burpees I’d be all like “Forget it!” but it innocently started with 10, then shots of 5 with rests in between, and somehow I went along till completion. And after the hundred he still breezily squeezed in 5 more. As Jordan puts it: the power of not thinking too much, just do it. Click to play the video below. The burpees start at minute 15:05 and end at minute 28:40.

With lots of huffing and puffing noisily throughout and feeling like I was going to die while screaming and cursing on the inside, I scraped through. In my exhaustion soon into it, many of my pushups were barely half done, my ‘jumps’ quickly reduced to inch-high hops, and at one point I had to pause the video to take a longer break of a full minute more, but whatever. When I finished, my lungs felt like they were going to explode out my chest, but at the same time I was so shocked and happy I managed to do it.

I gave it another go a week later. While still painful and left gasping in full breaths of air, once again I felt like such a champion that I could do 105 of the formerly dreaded burpee in one session (never mind the crappy form). I then decided to try it for 30 consecutive days. On Day 7, I made the mistake of pushing it off till I plain forgot to do it, so I had to start Day 1 anew.  Yesterday I finally finished Day 30. The bonus is that with all those reps, my form had also slowly improved, and I think my pushup part is okay now.

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Instead of having to refer to the video above all the time, for convenience I use an interval timer app I already had in my phone, installed from Google Play Store. I keyed in the following sets of workout and rest. This is what works for me; enough time to not rush through it, and I find 20 seconds of rest is enough to catch my breath.

Work 40 seconds – Do 10 Burpees for a total of 10 Rest 20 seconds
Work 20 secs – Do 5 for 15Rest 20 secs
Work 20 secs – Do 5 for 20Rest 20 secs
Work 20 secs – Do 5 for 25Rest 20 secs
Work 20 secs – Do 5 for 30Rest 20 secs
Work 20 secs – Do 5 for 35 Rest 20 secs
Work 20 secs – Do 5 for 40Rest 20 secs
Work 20 secs – Do 5 for 45Rest 20 secs
Work 20 secs – Do 5 for 50Rest 20 secs
Work 20 secs – Do 5 for 55Rest 20 secs
Work 20 secs – Do 5 for 60Rest 20 secs
Work 20 secs – Do 5 for 65Rest 20 secs
Work 20 secs – Do 5 for 70Rest 20 secs
Work 20 secs – Do 5 for 75Rest 20 secs
Work 20 secs – Do 5 for 80Rest 20 secs
Work 20 secs – Do 5 for 85Rest 20 secs
Work 20 secs – Do 5 for 90Rest 20 secs
Work 20 secs – Do 5 for 95Rest 20 secs
Work 40 secs – Do 10 for 105 (Total Time 13 minutes)

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I was actually introduced to burpees like a year ago, via the following video of a Japanese YouTuber that was featured on an online article.

Even though his burpee is sans pushup, it’s still really tough to me because of the tabata style of workout, a very short 4-minute but very intense workout incorporating sets of 20 seconds of work (in this case 8 burpees in those 20 seconds) followed by 10 seconds of rest. A total of 8 sets make the 4 minutes.

In the beginning I managed only 4 or 5 burpees per set, and was already panting like crazy after a couple of sets. It took me weeks to finally manage to do 8. Even then I never really got the hang of it. Having only 10 seconds to catch my breath in between those sets was just too hard. But now thinking about it, thanks to this brilliant workout I was already cranking out 64 burpees in just 4 minutes! Okay, sans pushup, but I still think it’s so cool.

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So why do I do burpees (let alone 105 in a session) even though I think they’re kinda sadistic? I have to admit it is a great full body workout, and giving me both cardio and strength training in one go is a great bonus. When I struggled with it in the beginning it made me realize how out of shape I was, and I decided to use the exercise to get better. Well I’m still out of shape haha, and still panting madly throughout most of the workout, and still need to sit down a bit afterwards. But my fitness level has improved somewhat so I feel better about it.

The journey continues!

New Year Resolution begins today

At least when it comes to exercise.

I don’t really believe in New Year Resolutions. If we really want to do something, there’s no need to wait until 1st January. Or use it as an excuse to delay doing it. If you think about it, it’s actually more constructive to adopt a New Month Resolution or New Week Resolution instead. That would cut down the procrastination to a great extent. Of course, the best would be New Day Resolution, even better if Day refers to Today, not Tomorrow, or worse, Forever Tomorrow.

But New Year Resolutions are more fun and novel because it’s just once a year, feeding into grander dreams of what we can achieve in 365 days. Who doesn’t dream of being better people, in better situations, in better shape. New hopes, new beginnings. Hopes and dreams are fun. But that’s possibly because we can do our hoping and dreaming while our asses are still in bed or on the sofa. It’s actually having to put in the effort come 1st January and the weeks and months after that it progressively ceases to be less and less fun.

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So I’ve been thinking, the reason why my New Year Resolutions to exercise regularly crumbles soon after is sore muscles. Yes, when we work out after not doing it for weeks or months, naturally our joints and muscles become all sore the following day as they seek to recover from the sudden workout they had suddenly been subjected to. Depending on how strenuous the workout is, we might take days to recover.

So what usually happens year after year is, after only the second or third workout, I finally can’t take it anymore and have to take a break for a few days. And then find that I can’t fully get back into the previous momentum. This affects the will to exercise which gradually peters off, with more and more breaks in between, until by March or so I’m back to square one.

So, my strategy is simply to start now in early December. Get all the soreness out of the way, so that come 1st January, I’ll be all up and running. That’s the idea, anyway. Which I may or may have not thought of while my ass was still in bed or on the sofa.

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So what’s my New Year Resolution with regards to exercising regularly? Oh, only about 30 minutes or so, 5 to 6 days a week. Nothing too ambitious to cut down the chance of burning out. A mix of dumbbells for resistance training, and cardio.

For cardio, I want to incorporate the following video I came across on YouTube by an instructor called Rowan Row. I tried it yesterday (a Monday = New Week Resolution!) only to discover how out of shape I’ve become. The 10-minute routine is simple to follow: 10 simple exercises, each 45 seconds long followed by 15 seconds of rest. I found that I can’t do some (like the half-burpees, the third exercise) for the whole 45 seconds. It’s too hard.

Never mind, though. I simply do what I can for now, 30 seconds, with a view to build up my stamina over the next few weeks to do the whole 45 seconds. I also modify some exercises to suit my current fitness level. For example, for now I don’t go low on the lunges, the seventh exercise, so I don’t over-exert and hurt my knees.

So that’s another great reason to start our New Year Resolution early. Get the kinks all sorted out, get our joints and muscles acquainted to the routines we want to do. Get used to the time of day we’ve set to exercise, especially if it’s early morning. Settle all these and other things to be mentally and physically ready.

Come 1st January, we’d already be doing it with comfortable confidence, instead of just starting out. Best of luck to all of us, especially me! I’ll be needing it 🙂