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Tangram's August Fitness Inspiration: Cristina Bel Ascanio

Cristina is working it out! 

Cristina is working it out! 

My job as Fitness Specialist at Tangram means that I’m lucky enough to meet some pretty phenomenal women here in Singapore, ladies who balance full-on careers and families alongside gutsy and intense training programs. 

I’m constantly in awe of my clients. It’s truly inspirational to watch such strong progression and dedication on a weekly basis. Getting results in the gym requires hard work and real consistency. This is difficult enough for most of us, but try doing it after 10 hours at work or a sleepless night with two cranky toddlers!

Hats off to you ladies, you deserve to be applauded on so many levels. So, this month we're introducing a new feature here on the blog, highlighting some of the amazing fitness journeys we're fortunate enough to be a part of here at Tangram. 


This month I’d like to share one of my client’s stories, Cristina Bel Ascanio:

Cristina is a super committed lady. Despite working 10 hour days, 6 days a week in a stressful environment, she consistently comes to see me twice weekly at the end of her 10 hour shift and she’s never missed a session since we started training together over 8 months ago.

Cristina initially had very low energy levels and was highly stressed from work. She wasn’t sleeping well and generally felt quite lethargic. Cristina was very concerned with stubborn fat cells clinging to her midsection and really wanted to lose a few kilograms.

With training, we automatically noticed her energy levels improving. The exercise alone helped reduce her stress load and Cristina subsequently lost inches from her waistline. Her sleep has improved over time as has her overall strength and fitness. Although Cristina’s weight remains the same, her lean body mass has increased significantly giving her a lean and toned physique to be very proud of!

Stretch time!

Stretch time!

Cristina’s glory does not just lay in her stats; her ability to perform well over a variety of disciplines is really impressive. This super flexible yogi can really hold her own in muscular strength and endurance and also smashes a 10km run.

The benefits of Cristina’s multidisciplinary approach to fitness are that the various disciplines complement each other so that the sum of the parts are much greater than the whole. Yoga is her first love but, through consistent hard work in the gym, we have developed her core and strengthened the prime muscles of her upper and lower body to enable her to
really exceed at yoga and hold her body in positions she never dreamed were attainable.

Running was previously an activity Cristina didn't particularly enjoy but she’s worked hard at the HIIT components to her gym program, gaining speed and endurance along the way. She now enjoys running 10km along the East Coast parkway on her day off as the stamina she’s built in the gym makes running more about pleasure than pain.

So from myself and all the team at Tangram Wellness, WELL DONE CRISTINA!

You are a great example of a focused and disciplined attitude in the face of life's stresses.

High fives for all your hard work, Cristina! If you'd like to get in touch with Anna to see how she can assist you with your fitness goals, drop her an email at anna@tangramwellness.com . As always, thanks for reading, and may you have a fit and healthy month ahead! 

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Why We Self-Sabotage… and How to Stop

Artist: Tigran Tsitoghdzyan

Artist: Tigran Tsitoghdzyan

Self-sabotage is perhaps the most common factor leading to the derailment of a person’s goals, and yet, we generally fail to see this core issue at the center of our disappointment. A personal trainer might think, “oh well, she just didn’t want it bad enough” while a yo-yo dieter may say to herself, “I’m big boned and diabetic- might as well give up on being fit.” A woman with a binge drinking disorder might think, “it’s been a stressful day at work. I need to take the edge off,” while her partner may silently mutter, “if she wants to kill herself, that’s her business.” By taking the messes we make in our lives at face value, we're able to avoid the sharp yet temporary pain that comes with deeper investigation. Unfortunately, this perpetuates further sabotage; we eventually find ourselves neck deep in our own unsettling muck. 

So, what exactly is self-sabotage? 

Self-sabotage is the act of confirming the worst beliefs you have about yourself, beliefs that are often imposed on you by an external source at a time when you were not yet prepared to think independently. Self-sabotage is rooted in a legacy of self-hatred passed down through generations, like an ancient poison recipe, or a customary curse. It’s the echo of an elementary school teacher who screams, “what are you, stupid?” because that is what her great aunt taught her about herself. It’s the memory of a narcissistic mother who defined you as “nothing,” or the imprint of a schoolyard bully who, after punching you into the lawn, goes home to a father who does the same to him. What’s most compelling about self-sabotage is that even though it can decimate our lives, it has absolutely nothing to do with us. In fact, its seeds may have been planted hundreds of years before we were born.

Why do we self-sabotage?

We sabotage ourselves because we take what we perceive to be “wrong” with us so personally. We believe deep down that our “failures” are what define us and that we’re destined to be less than what we once hoped we’d become. Whether it’s regaining all the weight back, picking up the bottle after swearing off alcohol yet again, allowing that bully at work to undermine our success, or failing to ask for what we need and desire, our self-sabotage is a message to the world about how we see ourselves: Less than. Unworthy. Undeserving of help. Unable to have a voice in our own lives. Beyond redemption.

We sabotage ourselves because self-imposed isolation seems like the safest path. We act out the traumas of our distant past as if we’re still small, unprotected, disempowered. Whether it’s wrapping our bodies with a flesh-coat of extra kilograms to repel and dissuade, or numbing ourselves with booze in our bedrooms to avoid meeting the day, or tucking our inborn talents within the darkest parts of us to avoid potential criticism, our self-sabotage lets others know that we’re off limits: Undesirable. Untouchable. Repulsive. Undeserving of love. Unable to steer our own ship. Beyond protection.

We sabotage ourselves because we have no other means to cope with discomfort. We internalize our stress and we refuse to accept that unpleasant emotions are a natural part of each person’s existence. Whether it’s compulsively running on the treadmill for two hours every night after work, drinking to blackout after a fight with a lover, or mindlessly bingeing on chips in an effort to stop ruminating, our self-sabotage announces that we prefer “numb” as our default setting, that we’re not interested in intimacy or vulnerability or growth. We strive to be robotic. Unfeeling. Detached. Perfect. Undeserving of closeness. Unwilling to celebrate our common bond. Beyond humanity.

Artist: Andre Gelpe, Christine au Mirior, 1976

Artist: Andre Gelpe, Christine au Mirior, 1976

Self-Sabotage can manifest as:

  • Overeating
  • Undereating or restricting food
  • Abusing alcohol or drugs
  • Ruining solid, healthy relationships
  • Remaining in toxic relationships
  • Attracting people with personality disorders
  • Gravitating toward violent, abusive people
  • Neglecting your mental health needs
  • Failing to see a doctor for physical health concerns
  • Quitting a fitness or weight loss plan
  • Spending too much money
  • Staying in a job you hate
  • Trying to copy someone else's path
  • Doing what seems easy over what seems right
  • Saying “yes” when you mean “no”
  • People pleasing
  • Ignoring messages from your body
  • Ignoring callings from your soul
  • Refusing help, even though you may need it
  • Numbing out in any way possible
  • Neglecting your gifts and talents
  • Downplaying your abilities
  • Not asking for what you need
  • Not asking for what you want
  • Self-harm, cutting
  • Harming others, emotionally or physically
  • Getting into legal trouble
  • Cheating on your spouse
  • Signing up to a race and not accomplishing it
  • Overcommitting
  • Setting yourself up for failure
  • Constantly putting others needs before one's own

How can we stop self-sabotaging?

Artists: Vogue Italia by Paolo Roversi, September 2011

Artists: Vogue Italia by Paolo Roversi, September 2011

Remember what I’d written on accepting beliefs about ourselves that aren’t really our own? In order to overcome self-sabotage, we have to take our power back- power that we’d handed over to external forces a long time ago. Taking our power back means owning every decision we make, and developing a deeper consciousness about our actions. We can no longer place the blame for our behavior or perceived failings on someone else. We must commit to being responsible for what happens in our lives.

The beginning of a journey to return to our truest selves can often seem daunting, if not impossible. We’re no longer sure what we want, or how to measure our progress, or if we’re telling the truth to ourselves. At this point, it’s helpful to enlist a group or individual who can reliably act as both mirror and guide, providing you with a way to strengthen your awareness. Consciousness, like anything else, is a muscle that must be trained. If we don’t know how to do the training, how can we expect to see results? Refusing to self-sabotage means ASKING FOR HELP where you need it.

When we’re ready to stop self-sabotaging, we’re ready to accept the natural process of things, not as big chunks of achievement that we take on with all our might, but as small and reasonable steps toward change that allow us to build and learn as we grow. We no longer say, “even though I haven’t moved from the couch in a month, I’m going to run a marathon this April.” Instead we say, “I’m signing up for the 5km at the end of the year and I’m going to find someone qualified to help me with my training.” We no longer think about writing the next great novel in the span of a week. We focus instead on producing a steady and comfortable word count each day.

Leaving self-sabotage behind means abandoning our rigidity. We don't insist on having things exactly as we think they should be, and we honor the beauty inherent in a world that unfolds unpredictably with the ebbs and flows of seasons. The perfectionism we once held dear is seen merely as an obstacle to our creativity, an unwelcome roadblock in our yearning for exploration. We are open to the full experience of life- the beautiful and the cringeworthy, the depressing and the divine. We seek to see in color now, rather than in black and white. We commit to self-partnering in the moment, no longer looking to dead relics for our identity and worth.

How have you self-sabotaged in your life? What do you attribute to pulling you out of it? Leave your thoughts in the comments section- I'd love to hear from you. If you think this post would help someone else on the journey, please share it. 


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Workshop: LIFETIME LEAN, Saturday August 29th

Not a day goes by where my Facebook feed doesn't contain at least one diet post, whether it's a friend trying to lose weight, an advertisement for the next big miracle, or an acquaintance selling some kind of "shrinkage" elixir. Dukan, juice fasting, MLM supplements, 5:2, cabbage soup, Skinny Bitch, Grapefruit diet, Atkins, the Zone... even new trends of drinking clay and ingesting tapeworm eggs just to lose weight- totally gross! Obviously, this all makes my job very tough- my clients point to Susie Q who's on an extreme low calorie diet losing 4 lbs. a week and wonder why they're only losing a quarter of that. They see these 12-week "amazing before and afters" that required 1,000-calorie-a-day meal plans and 2 hours of daily exercise and they get sad. I relate because I used to buy into that crap myself, to the point where I was popping handfuls of (now illegal) fat burners and vomiting up my food. Not cute!

This industry I'm in... a lot of it totally blows.

So, here's the deal- next Saturday afternoon, August 29th, I will be hosting an intensive three hour workshop along with Master Trainer and Nutrition Coach, Roz Alexander, to help people cut through all the stinky diet and fitness B.S. and actually learn how to create a sustainable, long-term plan. Real transformation requires commitment to learning, hunger for change, and a willingness to reprogram both mind and body. There's no quick fix, and you don't just wake up one day a brand new person- it's a daily commitment. Change IS hard work- the diet companies won't tell you that- but if you have a blueprint in place, some useful tools, and a real willingness to turn the corner for good, I know you can get to a place of strength, joy, and peace living in a body that you're friends with. If you're looking for an instant turnaround or you need to squeeze into a dress in two weeks, this workshop is not for you. If you're ready to unravel the diet world mess and do the work to be healthy, strong and confident, please join! If you think this may be useful to someone you know, share it! 

To learn more and secure your seat--> http://strongbody.peatix.com/?lang=en-sg


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Q: How Do I Get Back Into Fitness Again?

Have you ever struggled to get back into your fitness routine after a long break? Maybe you haven't worked out in a few years and are ready to commit to taking care of your body again. If this resonates with you, then you'll definitely want to check out the video below, where I answer a question from Lisa, who asks:

"I want to start exercising again after a super long hiatus. However, I've become so unfit that I can feel my glutes and calves ache after walking up a flight of stairs. I have a gym membership which I never use. However, I feel self-conscious when I go to the gym. How should I start again? Should I start off with bodyweight exercises? 

Have a question on fitness, nutrition or habit change? Ask away, and I'll answer it via video or blog post!

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For Fitness Success, Pack a Plan in Your Holiday Suitcase

Pack a plan and relax! 

Pack a plan and relax! 

Question: I’m going on holiday for two weeks soon- YAY! How do I stick to my diet and fitness plan during this time? 

 

Answer: Your question shows me that you’re taking a proactive approach by preparing to pack a plan as you’re packing your suitcase! Here are my eight tips for diet and exercise success while you’re on vacation:

1. Carry a copy of your diet and fitness guidelines, as well as a checklist for the time you’re away.  What holds you to your plan while you’re at home? Do you put your workouts on your calendar or set an exercise reminder on your phone? Do you have a food list taped to your refrigerator? Do you count calories using an app like MyFitnessPal or FitBit? Be sure to continue using systems that work for you while you’re on vacation. I like to carry a short checklist with me using the Evernote app. Don’t put your systems “on hold” until you return- these tools are important for success and may be challenging to reincorporate into your life if you let them go for a week or two.

2. Prepare ahead by packing some healthy snacks and meals. Almonds, hummus, buffalo mozzarella, Greek yogurt, fresh fruit and protein powder are just a few items you can have on hand at the airport and in the hotel. Pack a few snacks in your day bag as well; popular tourist destinations are often surrounded by fast food joints and healthier choices can be tough to find. Invest in a cooler bag and some Tupperware and bring a few pre-prepared lunches with you for the days when you’ll be out and about. Most hotels have refrigerators in the room now, so there's less worry about spoilage. 

3. Do a little research before your holiday. What are some healthy food options that are native to your destination? That way, you’ll still be able to enjoy the cultural experience of dining out while sticking to your plan. Heading to Greece? You can’t go wrong with souvlaki, briam, dakos, and grilled fish! Vacationing in Japan? That’s an easy one- head over to Tsukiji fish market for a sashimi breakfast with free flow green tea. Bouncing over to Malaysia for the weekend? That can be a bit trickier, due to the amount of coconut milk, sugar and butter in many of the dishes. In this case, focus instead on portion control. Don’t deprive yourself, but definitely skip the full portion of char kway teow.

4. If you’ve got the budget for it, book a hotel with a fabulous gym! Make the gym one of the most important factors in choosing where to stay. Is the equipment shiny and new? Are there many machines to choose from? Are classes offered? Is there a pool or a sauna? How about a yoga and pilates studio? Hotels know that fitness services are increasingly important to travelers, especially in Asia! Drool-worthy gyms include the Park Hyatt in Tokyo, the Ritz-Carlton in Hong Kong, the Westin in Beijing, and the Conrad in Bali. Be sure to book a nice massage as well!

5. Get your travel partners involved. Unfortunately, one of the biggest barriers to success in sticking with new habits can be the people you love the most. Maybe your spouse is always pushing homemade cupcakes your way. Perhaps your best friend is constantly asking you to get a drink with her. Or, maybe your kids regularly leave food on their plates and you feel guilty letting it go to waste. Whatever the case, be sure to have this worked out BEFORE your travel. Usually that means sticking with a new habit or behavior on your own for at least a few months. At this point, the important people in your life will have come to some level of acceptance about the new you.
Sit down with your travel partners before you head on vacation and tell them about your diet and fitness plan. Highlight why it’s so important to you to stick with it and outline a few ways that they can help you while enjoying a vacation together.

6. Tap into an online network of supportive buddies. Before you leave, build a network of online friends who understand the journey you’re on, be it losing weight or quitting smoking or training for an athletic event. Social networking sites like Fitocracy, Bodybuilding.com, Runkeeper and MyFitnessPal are great for discovering like-minded people who are working toward bettering their lives. Nearly all hotels have WiFi these days, so don’t be afraid to take twenty minutes out of your itinerary to connect with a few of your online cheerleaders.

7. Reward yourself for sticking to your plan. Speaking of massages, schedule a few hours at the end of your trip to pamper yourself as a reward for adhering to your diet and exercise plan while you’re away. Maybe a two-hour Ayurvedic massage tickles your fancy, or perhaps you’d like a half day alone to wander around a fabric market or get a tailored suit made. Maybe a poolside mani/pedi is more your speed. Whatever it is, make the reward special- it’s your treat for being being a determined and fabulous traveler!

8. Enjoy life! Give yourself a little wiggle room while you’re on vacation- don’t be so tough on yourself. It’s a vacation, after all! If you usually exercise five days a week for an hour, aim for five days a week for 40 minutes instead while you’re on vacation- you’ll likely be doing a lot of walking anyway. Consider building in a “cheat meal” every 4-5 days to eat what you want within reason. If you’re in Italy, for instance, enjoy a plate of pasta and a gelato. Don’t you dare feel guilty about it!

Be well, and happy travels!

-Aimee

 

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Welcome to Tangram Fitness!

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After months of preparation, I am so excited to officially launch a new kind of fitness and wellness business in Singapore! Tangram Fitness takes a "long view approach" to fitness by giving each client the tools they need for lifelong health and wellness, incorporating mobile personal training, nutrition education and health coaching. We have more than a few unique features, including Singapore's first and only "pay as you please" bootcamp; an eight week weight training course for women called "Lifting the Weight"; and a Q&A blog to answer all your questions about transforming your body, shifting your habits and ultimately, changing your life. Tangram Fitness also aims to raise the bar by beginning a new conversation about real health and wellness issues facing women today- no fluff and no fads. Topics you'll read about here include:

- The truth about diets and metabolic damage
- How to set up "non-negotiables" in your life and stick with them
- Why women should lift heavy weights
- Places to recharge your batteries in Singapore
- How meditation can boost athletic performance 
- Why Asia needs to REJECT the American diet!
- Sweating away anxiety and depression 

- Focus on Food: mussels for muscles, quinoa, bitter gourd, green drinks, and hundreds of other "power" foods. 

So, without further ado, let's get this new community going! 

What are YOU interested in learning more about? What types of fitness and wellness services would be most beneficial to you? Do you have a burning question about fitness? Send your wishes, requests and queries to aimee@tangramfitness.com. I look forward to hearing from you!

-Aimee 

 

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