Tag Archives: health

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#AdeleWFOTM – Colleen Augustin

This month, we have OCR Queen – Colleen Augustin!

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I first met this lil power nugget face to face at the start line of the Compressport Combo Challenge 2016 trail race at Mardi Maeps (you can read about it here). I knew who she was but until that time, we had not officially met. We exchanged a few words and I instantly got that bubbly-hyper vibe from her. She’s a BALL OF ENERGY!

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Back then, she ran a few road races and some trail runs here and there. Now, this 19 year old is taking over the OCR scene with her latest 2nd place win at the Spartan Super 2017 in Malaysia!

She’s super supportive of others, REAL and a true inspiration!


Recent achievements at the APAC Championship Series:

1st Leg – Hong Kong (3rd)

2nd Leg – Taiwan (5th)

3rd Leg – Korea (3rd)

4th Leg – Malaysia (2nd)

Finals – Perth


1. How did you get into OCR?

I got into OCR because of my mother and brother. They went over to Brisbane, Australia for a Spartan race back in 2014. During that time, I was playing basketball with my team. I was curious what it was since I’ve seen my mom do Reebok One Challenge before. So, I asked my dad since he was ex-military, and he explained it to me. When my mom and brother came back, I saw the photos and they told me what they did. It intrigued me even more.

When the next OCR event came about in Malaysia, I went! It was the Viper Challenge (21km). It was my first ever obstacle race, it was gruelling but I finished it and immediately got hooked.

2. How long have you been doing it?

I believe it would be about 2.5 years since I started OCR. I started in late 2015 in November, I was 16 then.

3. Are you part of any OCR community/group?

I would like to think that I’m part of many OCR Communities. Hahaha…18951482_1955591918009788_4196383762455839875_n

I like to mingle with other Spartans from around the world and from everywhere. But there are a few names that come to mind like OCR Junkies (KL), Lion City Spartans (Singapore), Warrior (Penang), and a Philippines group that I can’t quite remember the name. I am not single-ing them out, these are just names I remember that I’m quite actively close with. They have been very warm and friendly every time I visit.

4. Your profession (school/uni/work):

I currently work with OBC Malaysia as a bootcamp instructor. I would probably start my first year of university next year (due to my parent’s wishes hahahaha *coughs*).

Right now, I focus on training.

5. How do you juggle work/study and OCR?

I have a very supportive community at work and at home. I also learn how to manage my time more wisely and get my priorities right.

6. Do you have a training schedule? What is it like?

I do, but it changes at times. Roughly, I train from Monday to Friday about 2-3 times a day with 1-2 rest days a week. On weekends, I usually put in a hike/run/bootcamp session to just stay alive (with exception where I will just jog or swim).19958968_10211183888207710_4264200008165936802_n

7. Who do you usually train with?

Who is very hard to say, as I train in classes/sessions. Outside of that, I train alone by myself or with my trainer. It sounds sad for some, but I prefer training alone so that I can focus on myself and my weaknesses.

8. What keeps you motivated?

That is a tough one. The love of the sport, and constantly wanting to improve and challenge myself.

9. Which was the most memorable race event and why?

My most memorable race event was the recent Spartan Super 2017 in Malaysia, which happens to be the 4th leg of the APAC Championship Series before the finals in Perth.

I was crying tears of joy when I finished the race despite coming in 2nd place. Why? It was the people. When I was finishing the last cluster of obstacles and burpees, I just kept pushing myself remembering what my brother and my parents said to me during the race. That kept me pushing hard! I also heard the people at the race. Spartans going into their starting pens, shouting: “Go Colleen!” “Malaysia Boleh!”! These were people that I’ve never met before. I was so touched I started crying when I crossed the finish line.

When I started this APAC Championships Series, I knew I had my family, coaches, OBCFamily and MonarchyFamily supporting me at every step. Little did I know that I had made an impact on other Spartans in Malaysia as well.

In the moment, as I crossed the finish line, I saw Quek and Mike. They were giving me such big smiles! I felt so proud that I made them smile like that. It was because of them that I had this blessed opportunity to do this – improve myself and make a difference/appear in the OCR scene on a larger scale. My competitor, Angelique, gave me a hug when she saw me which I returned to her and Jade Ross.

Even while being interviewed, I started crying tears of joy again!

10. Any advice for someone who is wanting to get into OCR?

As I tell anyone, just do it!

Start small if you are scared, go for a shorter distance 5-6km long. You never know how hooked you would become until you cross that finish line. I highly encourage it. Go with a friend if you’re worried.

Sometimes in life, you have to get out of your comfort zone and JUST DO IT!

11. Your inspiration: My family, coaches, competitors and teammates!

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I hope you guys enjoyed it as much as I did. And maybe, a lil spark of inspiration to start your first OCR?

Thanks so much for your time, Colleen! Keep it up and make Malaysia proud! All the best! <3

Follow her OCR journey on her FB page

xoxo

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#AdeleWFOTW – Loh Voon Ying

#AdeleWFOTWWomen Feature Of The Week!

Anybody remember that hashtag? Yeah, I totally killed it. But I intend to bring it back! YAY!

I think I should change it to #AdeleWFOTMWomen Feature Of The Month!


So anyway, this month we have Loh Voon Ying! I actually engaged her a LOOOOONGGGG time ago, the first few on my list!

But, I totally messed it up and that was why I didn’t manage to publish it. But it is NEVER too late to feature this special girl.

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Voon Ying is a very humble, low key runner. But she’s no stranger in the running community.

When I first started running competitively, her name kept popping up everywhere. Everyone was just talking about her! To be honest, I was afraid of her because we hadn’t met before. We didn’t manage to cross paths until a few months later. I

was star struck when I finally got to meet her. She’s soft spoken, kind and super down to earth!

Read on to find out more about her:

1. How long have you been running?

12 years since 2005.

2. How did you get into running?

I started running to stay fit.

I decided to lace up my shoes and step out of the door during my teenage years, the time when a girl starts to care about her physical appearance. Girls are usually always worried about being fat even if they’re actually skinny.

It was hard at first. But fortunately, I had my brother and uncles (all of them experienced in running) as my coaches when I was new, so it became easier over time. I walked/ran, kept the distance short, took it slow and didn’t overdo it in the early days. I learnt a lot of running tips and got a lot of fitness guide from them. They play an important role in my running journey.

Running started as a way for me to stay fit, but now I run because I want to, it’s turned to a habit. Sometimes, I just enjoy feeling alone, feeling the wind, and feeling the heart beating, the panting and sweating! That’s what’s so incredible about running.

3. Do you join any running groups? If yes, which running group?

I joined Cari Runners in 2012, and officially Pacemakers on the 1st of August 2014 after being invited by Captain Ronnie. He has been a very helpful figure in my running journey.

19238672_1614652988546132_1367626231_oPAR 13 – I missed this race last year due to injury. Special thanks to Teck Wai for arranging everything!

4. Your profession:

Photoshop editor and admin staff.

5. How do you juggle work and running?

I’ll try to get on the road 3 days a week. If I plan to jog but unfortunately have to work overtime, I will surf Facebook less the night before and set early morning alarms the next day to get up and run.

6. Do you have a training schedule? What is it like?

I don’t have a running schedule. Usually plans that I’ve made for running don’t work out, either because of external factors or my weak determination (lol). So instead, I’ve just let it be flexible and try to run whenever I can with at least one tempo run per week.

7. Who do you usually train/run with?

Train with my bro but mostly solo.

8. Which was the most memorable race event and why!

Memorable race would be Larian Gegar Half Marathon 2015 where I injured myself. ☹

Lesson: Always pay full attention during a race, even if the race venue is very familiar to you. Never be careless!

And Twincity Marathon 2014 too, my very 1st sub 4 marathon. The thrill of crossing the finish line. You will learn that you are tougher than you ever give yourself credit for. I found out that I could go further than I once thought.

19389572_1614654168546014_1026890805_nMy Healthy Run – Finally managed to run 5 min/km (post injury)!

9.Favourite distance:

Half Marathon!

10. Who is your inspiration?

My brother Loh Voon Leong! He made me the runner I am today. You are the beginning of my running journey. 一切由你开始。19340080_1614624911882273_1221442525_oThe Loh siblings winning at the Raub Village Run – 13th May 2017!

11. Fav running quote:

“Everyone is an athlete. But some of us are training, and some of us are not.” -Dr. George Sheehan


Thanks Voon Ying!

I LOVE that last quote! Well said!

Running is for EVERYONE!

If you’ve been thinking of running, here’s the cue to get started!

My top tip is to GET A GROUP! FIND a bunch of CRAZY runners and ENJOY THE JOURNEY!

xxxx

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Do Calories Matter? – Part 4

We’re on to PART 4! This is the longest series of blog posts I’ve ever done. Evidently, there is a lot more to talk about! These are just the highlights of a much bigger picture.


Let’s do a quick recap379302_325658287555375_1376847731_n.21

The flaws of the calorie centric view:

  • Humans are not perfect machines (cannot apply the concept of calories in/calories out). Equations are pretty much useless. Just use it as a GUIDE. Your life does not depend on it!
  • It goes against the Second Law of Thermodynamics
  • Calorie counting does not take into account the quality of foods and its metabolic effects on hunger, appetite, energy usage/storage, satiety etc
  • Many factors affect metabolism – environment, genetics etc
  • It is possible to increase fatness on a reduced calorie diet (on high GI foods) [1] SURPRISE SURPRISE!
  • Quality of diet can affect/induce anabolism (fat storage)
 Quick links to Part 1, 2 and 3!

QUALITY over QUANTITY

A calorie focussed mind would lookout for foods that are low/-er in calories. Since FAT is calorie dense, it immediately gets a bad rep. Low fat foods are usually high in refined carbs/starches. That’s because most times, when you take something out, you need to fill it with something else!
Even if they are not “empty calories” per se (containing vitamins, minerals, fibre, antioxidants etc), these foods that are high in processed, artificial refined carbs/starches are DETRIMENTAL to health, causing harm to the body and metabolic dysfunction [2].
What to eat?
NUTRITION over CALORIES
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Low refined sugar/carbs/starches
If you are going to eat carbs, go for WHOLE minimally processed ones. Starchy vege (sweet potatoes, potatoes, taro, pumpkin, squash etc) and fruits are great options. When going for rice/pasta/bread, think brown/red/wild/black. These are more nutrient dense. Refined options have been stripped of their vitamins, minerals and fibre. You’re basically just eating sugar.
Fats
The only bad fat here is highly processed trans fat. Go for fats found naturally in olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds, dairy products, real butter, fat from meat and fish. These are all high in a good combination of mono- and polyunsaturated fats.

Protein
Meat, fish, eggs and dairy products (milk, cheese, yoghurt).2016-10-21-1477056674-8700239-homer
How much of each macronutrient (carbs, protein, fat) to eat is different for each individual. Get a dietitian to do the work. ;D

Gut Health

This is a growing area of research. The little bacteria in your gut is SO important!
Research has now shown that WHAT you eat affects the little bacteria world in your gut. You might need to rethink your zero-calorie artificial sweeteners! They have been shown to have the potential to alter your gut microbiome [3]. ANY disruption to this balance can possibly lead to obesity, diabetes, cancer, inflammation, inflammatory bowel disease and a decreased immune system [4].stomach-bacteria
The quality of food, prebiotics (food for healthy gut bacteria), probiotics (healthy gut bacteria) and antibiotics affect the overall balance of gut bacteria.
Sources of prebiotics: Prebiotics are the fibre foods that cannot be digested. Onions, garlic, asparagus, unripe bananas, artichokes are great sources. These are “eaten” and considered food for your gut bacteria.
Sources of probiotics: Fermented foods like yoghurts, kefir, tempeh, miso, kombucha, saukraut etc. Different brands use different strains of bacteria and the amount it contains varies.
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These are beneficial but there is very little research that shows how much pre/probiotics to consume, exactly which strain (is best), the quality and how much of it actually stays in our gut after consumption [5].

Physical Activity

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JUST GET UP AND GET MOVING!
Any form of physical activity is better than NOTHING. Pick something that you like and JUST DO IT!

Rest
Sleep has become a luxury and stress has now become commonplace in our lives.
How do these affect weight and metabolism?
Stress stimulates the body to release cortisol, which is the hormone involved in CRAVINGS. “Stress eating” is real.Processed with Snapseed.
When you don’t get enough sleep, the hunger hormone kicks in.
Together, they have an influence on food intake and fat storage.


When you focus on QUALITY and pay attention to your natural body cues, you wouldn’t need to be whipping out your calculator and counting everything.
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 Key points to remember:

-Focus on the SOURCE of calories and not calorie counts

-Eat REAL, MINIMALLY processed, WHOLE, FRESH, NUTRIENT dense foods

The GOLDEN rule is: If it is packaged, highly processed with ingredients that you can barely pronounce with loud “health claims”, don’t buy it!

-Achieving optimum hormonal balance and metabolic function is KEY

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Do Calories Matter? – Part 3

Hello Part 3 (Part 1 and Part 2)!

We’ve explored calories, energy in food, the calorie focused theory and how we gain weight!

Now, let’s take a look at what happens if we just ate less!


Undereating

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The conventional approach to lose weight would be to decrease food intake, increase physical activity or BOTH! Because……

Calories in < Calories out = WEIGHT LOSS

It seems to make sense.

We’ve all done it at some point in our lives. And I can tell you that it definitely works!

……tired-runner

Until your body catches up and starts going against you. You can’t outsmart your body!

Your body will undergo a period of trying to adapt to the decreased food intake and/or increased physical activity. It wants to defend your body’s set weight [1]. This leads to biochemical changes that can throw off your metabolism (i.e. slowing it down!).

You become very efficient at using your fuel and stores – being able to survive with less energy. It means that overall, you burn less. Keep in mind that your basal metabolic rate takes up a huge chunk of your daily expenditure (60-75%!). You do not want to mess this up.

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The pitfalls of undereating

If this continues, you might:

-Hit a plateau

-Feel tired and fatigued

-Experience mood/behavioural changes

Hunger

-Strong cravings

Lose muscle

-Store more fat

Gain weight

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…… basically a ticking time bomb towards failure and losing control. And all of this is happening because your body is trying to look out for you!

This potentially explains why some people, despite a calorie deficit, fail to lose weight!

There’s evidence that fatness can increase despite being in an energy deficit state [1].


We’ve seen how the calorie focused view fails to explain weight gain and weight loss.

So, now what?

What CAN we do?

Stay tuned for Part 4!

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Do Calories Matter? – Part 2

Back for Part 2 of Do Calories Matter?

Here, we will discuss the calorie focused theory and how we gain weight.


Calories in calories out theory

Many of us tend to look at the calories in food when we are trying to achieve a certain weight (gain or loss).

Calories In > Calories Out = Weight Gain

Calories In = Calories Out = Weight Maintanence

Calories In < Calories Out = Weight Loss

From this perspective, it seems to say that we can eat whatever we want. Because only calories matter. It is saying that a calorie’s worth of beef, butter, ice cream, rice or beer have the same effects on the body (fatness and weight).

We also hear common terms like #IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros).  As long as it fits within your macros (protein, carb, fat), you can eat it. For example: I can have burgers and fries twice a day because it fits within my calorie needs/macros.

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But is 500 kcal of junk the same as 500 kcal of real food?

Are we gaining weight simply by EATING TOO MUCH?

Based on the calories in calories out theory, we gain weight by consuming more than we expend (which is true from a mechanic point of view).

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Calories in > Calories out = WEIGHT GAIN

Sounds easy enough?

BUT!

We are humans! We are not perfect machines where mathematical equations simply apply. There are MANY other factors that affect weight and metabolism. Counting calories disregards the quality of food and its effect on our metabolism – hunger, appetite, energy usage and storage, satiety etc.

Did you know that certain foods can “trigger” hunger?

This also goes against the Second Law of Thermodynamics which states that energy transfer is not 100% efficient. There will be losses. It means that what we eat does not necessarily become energy that we can use.

This is why people respond so differently towards food. We all have that one friend who can eat the world, not move a muscle and yet, not gain a kilo.

A different perspective

 

Obesity Model Flow Chart

The diagram is from a paper by Prof David Ludwig and Mark Friedman. They challenged the theory of gaining weight simply by consuming more calories.

They proposed the alternative model B, which shows how the quality of the diet can increase fat storage, drive hunger, decrease basal metabolism and the cost of energy to move muscles (muscles use less energy), ultimately leading to weight gain.

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So, how do we gain weight (FAT)?

Let’s take a look at 2 hormones – insulin and leptin

Insulin is one of the hormones that play a major role in managing fuel concentration in the blood. It comes out to drive nutrients into STORAGE in the liver, muscle and fat cells.

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According to the same research paper, poor quality rapidly absorbable carbohydrate rich foods (white rice, refined starches, sugars, high GI foods etc) can cause spikes in insulin levels (more so compared to proteins, unrefined carbs and fats).

Insulin is VERY efficient, so much so that it quickly stores the fuel (i.e. in fat cells around the waist). Since all of it is in storage, your blood circulating fuels suffer a sudden drop.

As your body is running low on fuel (because it is stored away), you’d feel tired, lethargic, moody and HUNGRY. This is also known as the “SUGAR CRASH”! And as a result, you EAT…… again!

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It becomes a vicious cycle and it all starts with eating insulin spiking foods.

High insulin levels promote fat storage AND prevents the breakdown of fat. It has been identified that insulin is the main culprit when it comes to overweight and obesity [1].

The scary thing is that all of this can be happening even when a person is eating in a calorie deficit! Studies have shown that when the number of calories remained the same, a diet with transfat promoted weight gain compared to a diet without transfat [1].

Leptin

Leptin is a hormone that responds to the body’s fat cells. When fat stores are FULL, this hormone is released. It acts on several organs and glands (muscles, thyroid gland etc) to overall increase energy expenditure (move more) and decrease energy intake (eat less).

jabba-the-catThis is your body helping you to NOT store so much fat and to stop eating!

If something is “metabolically wrong” (i.e. insulin resistance) or if a person is obese, this signalling gets messed up. Instead of telling you to move more and eat less, it does the total opposite! [2].

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High insulin levels can also cause the body to stop responding to leptin.

These are perfect examples of how the quality of food (type and concentration of carbohydrates) acts in a neurohormonal way to push you to MOVE LESS, STORE MORE and EAT MORE!

Tackling obesity becomes more than just behavioural change. It is not just about telling someone to eat less and move more. As we’ve seen, you can gain weight and be metabolically obese even if you are eating less.

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It goes beyond that.

It is looking at the QUALITY of food.


Looks like we cannot “outrun” a bad diet. I always thought we could. You’d be pleased to know that my ice cream and cake intake are now very much under control.

So, what WOULD happen if we just ate less?

Calories In < Calories Out = Weight Loss?

Stay tuned for Part 3!