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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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A Resolution Recharge for Seriously Sticky Goals

It happens every year around this time: many millions of people across the globe vow- fireworks included- to turn a new leaf in the name of self-improvement, committing wholeheartedly to a fresh start. And then, around the second or third week of January, motivation begins to wane; the person they’d hoped to become eventually acquiesces to the comfort zone of where they’ve always been. Does this sound familiar? It certainly does to me! Every New Year’s Eve for over a decade, I’d vowed to quit smoking, only to feel more frustrated and beat down each and every time I failed. My list of resolution disasters continued to grow alongside my disillusionment and it was not until I changed my SYSTEMS that I was able to experience success with my goals. Here are my top 5 tips to give those resolutions sticking power:

1. Set SMARTER Goals
Many people make the mistake of setting half-baked goals like “lose weight” or “make more money”, often because they’re just not quite sure how to go about designing a success-oriented resolution. Give each goal you’ve set a real boost in potential by running them through a SMARTER checklist:
SPECIFIC goals are precise and answer the “who”, “what”, “when” and “where” questions. For instance, instead of setting the goal of “improve my health,” you would create a goal such as “go to the gym for a 45 minute strength training workout every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning and pre-plan and prepare my meals for the week on Sunday evenings between 6-8pm.”
MEASURABLE goals require quantifiable criteria to track your progress. How will you know that your goal is achieved? How will you measure it? Generally, it’s best to set up a system to record your progress for each goal, whether that’s a spreadsheet, journal or in an app.
ATTAINABLE goals are built on self-respect and self-efficacy. These resolutions are achievable because you’re willing to put in the necessary work they require, whether that’s building new skills, talking to the right people, or changing your schedule around.
RELEVANT goals have the importance they deserve in your life, and are given the space they require. Exploring the real reasons behind setting a goal will let you know whether it’s relevant or not. Do you really want to complete a triathlon, or do you merely admire triathletes?  Is making enough money to buy a sports car really important to you, or are you just trying to prove something?
TIMELY goals are made with a specific time frame in mind, often broken down into a few components. For instance, if your goal is to train for a marathon, you may set a goal of running 4 times a week for 16 weeks and signing up for a race on a specific date.
EXCITING goals are key- if you’re not enthusiastic about what you’ve set out to do, your chances of accomplishing it are going to be pretty slim. Dig deep to unearth your true reasons for achieving your goal, and imagine yourself finally attaining it. How does that feel? Does this resolution make you excited about your life?
REVIEWED goals keep you on target throughout the process. By reviewing your goals each week, you’ll pinpoint what you need to do in order to improve your chances of reaching it, and make any necessary tweaks along the way. For instance, perhaps you’ve set a goal of building muscle by weightlifting 4 times a week in the mornings before work, but your boss has made a shift change and asked you to come in an hour earlier. Reviewing your goals gives you the opportunity to edit and revise as necessary, rather than dropping the resolution altogether.
                                               
2. Get Accountable

If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a behavior change specialist and regular goal achiever, it’s that success rarely- if ever- happens in a vacuum. A support team can make all the difference in how far you’ll travel toward your dreams, and contrary to popular belief, they’re not so difficult to build. With the proliferation of social media groups, buddy apps, fellowships and meetup groups, you can easily link to motivated people who are traveling along the same path that you are, and who will be more than happy to establish a mutual accountability arrangement. Hiring a professional accountability partner like a personal trainer, coach or therapist can also provide an incredible motivational boost. These professionals come armed with an ample box of tools and skillsets to keep you on top of your game. For some reason, we human beings will often choose disappointing ourselves over disappointing someone else, and for this reason alone, accountability can be just the magic you need to fuel your resolutions.

3. Measure Your Progress
As a component of SMARTER goals, creating a reliable tool to measure your progress will keep you thoughtfully focused day-to-day while minimizing feelings of overwhelm. There are many options for measurement, and one I’m particularly fond of is behavior change guru Marshall Goldsmith’s method of tracking and accountability in the evening, as covered in his latest book,
"Triggers." Instead of listing each specific goal in a spreadsheet, he suggests reframing the goal by asking, “Did I do my best to________?” each day, and then rankiing the answer on a scale of 1-10. Additionally, he mentions enlisting a reliable accountability partner to review this list at the end of each day and briefly talk over any pitfalls. I was impressed to learn that one of the most esteemed coaches of our time actually hires a coach to phone him each night to go over his spreadsheet! It only takes about 5 minutes, and the benefits clearly outweigh the costs.

4. Put Your Money On It
If you want to put some real skin in the game, throw your money down! No one likes to lose money, which is why I recommend signing up to an accountability program like Stikk, an app that has users define their goal, set a timeline, and then put something at stake, whether that’s their hard-earned dough or their reputation through donating to a charity or a cause they vehemently oppose.  According to Stikk, using a commitment contract triples the goal-setter’s chance of success. If an app like Stikk doesn’t appeal to you, then consider parting with your beans by purchasing a service that supports your resolution. This could include a personal training or coaching package, a gym membership or a race entry packet for a 10km or triathlon.

5. Visualize the Future
Without a clear picture of where you’re heading, how can you reach your desired destination? Being able to clearly imagine where you’d like to be in the future, as well as the person you’re working to become, is paramount to effectively reaching a big goal, particularly if that goal may take years to achieve. I have personally been using visualization to reach my goals for many years, and now lead sell-out workshops on a topic that drives my own life.  Instead of solely visualizing the end goal, I recommend first writing down the steps required to the goal, and actually visualizing each component of the process. For example, ifyou want to open a business this year, map out what it will actually take to do so, from waking up earlier to meeting the perfect business partner or investor to landing your first client. What does that look like to you, and how does it feel?
While visualization isn’t as easy as “The Secret” would like you to believe- explicit action is required- numerous studies prove that having a clear picture of the journey ahead can make a big difference, and athletes are notorious for mentally rehearsing their sport to ensure a winning outcome. If you’d like to experience just how powerful visualization can be while letting the child within come out to play, come join my next Intention Board Session.

Unconvinced? Still need some time to procrastinate? Then check out my top 5 book picks to help you get motivated in achieving your goals.

Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts by Marshall Goldsmith
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
Getting Things Done by David Allen
Outwitting the Devil by Napoleon Hill
Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins


What systems have you created to ensure an awesome 2016? What goal gets you most excited this year? Are your resolutions still sticking? I'd love to hear from you! 

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10 Characteristics of Truly Strong Women

strongwomen.jpg

You've probably seen the meme, "Strong is the New Sexy," usually accompanying a photo of a muscled female in a skimpy outfit. As a competitive bodybuilder and coach who is deeply entrenched in the world of wellness, it can be tough to break free from the idea that strength has anything to do with the way a person looks. In reality, true strength has nothing to do with washboard abs, deadlift PRs or yoga inversions.

Here are 10 characteristics I've observed of truly strong women:

1. Strong women do not let rejection deter them. They push through criticism until they reach their desired destination. Their self-worth isn't hinged on the judgments of others.
2. Strong women honor their inherent creativity as a divine gift. However dark or painful, they dig deep into themselves, mining the unique contributions they have to offer up to the world.
3. Strong women recognize that not everyone has good intentions. They put their intuition to work, they ask the right questions, and they keep both eyes open. They are sharp, quick-witted and discerning.
4. Strong women are able to tell the truth about their past because they've committed to learning from it while guiding others. They view the past as WISDOM instead of shame.
5. Strong women set an example for their children instead of employing, "do as I say, not as I do." They accept their babies as watchful, intelligent and autonomous beings.
6. Strong women aren't afraid to ask for help when they need it. They won't hesitate to reach out to a friend, counsellor or a coach.
7. Strong women respect and take care of their bodies. Their bodies are their homes. They don't flood their homes with booze and drugs and other garbage.
8. Strong women say what they mean and mean what they say without apology. They are experts at conveying the word, "No."
9. Strong women rise from the ashes of their former selves. They are built from the fires of hardship and struggle. They earn every bit of their strength.
10. Strong women carve out their earthly successes by helping other women succeed. They see their life-force as plentiful. Strong women help their friends surpass them with humility, not envy.The big picture is clear to them.

Our strength isn't built in a gym- it's built from the trials and tests we encounter in our lives.

How would you define true strength? What are some characteristics of strong women that you've observed?

 

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TF's Healthy Holiday Gift & Goodies Guide

'Tis the season for a little extra belly padding thanks to holiday sweets and treats... and a little more thought about health and fitness resolutions for the New Year! Get your loved ones and yourself off to a sprinting start in 2015 with something that will inspire and surprise. Here is Tangram Fitness's round up of health-conscious & hassle-free Christmas gifts & goodies available locally in Singapore and online. Keep your eyes peeled for some special treats below! 

1. PASSION PLANNER 

Are you still scribbling your life goals and dreams on napkins, paper scraps, the back of receipts? If so, the Passion Planner may be just what you need. It's an all-in-one day planner, to do list, goal setting guide, journal and gratitude list with motivational quotes to keep you inspired. 
I have ordered Passion Planners for all of my current clients via Kickstarter. :-) It's tough to say whether they'll be manufactured and shipped by Christmas, so if you purchase it as a holiday gift, you may wish to email the Kickstarter video and note to the recipient. 
www.PassionPlanner.com

3. TEEKI LEGGINGS 

I discovered these leggings very recently during a trip to Florida, and was completely smitten when I found out that they are made from recycled bottles. The colorful Teeki prints and perfectly snug fit add a splash of extra motivation and fun to your workouts. They're so unique and comfortable.
http://teeki.com/
 


5. PRO GRADE KETTLEBELLS
 

2. THE PALEO KITCHEN 

Packed with beautiful, unique and easy-to-follow recipes, The Paleo Kitchen is perfect for every foodie, whether or not they follow the "Caveman" approach to nutrition. Their Chocolate Bacon Brownies and Rosemary Sundried Tomato Meatballs are two of my favorites; I have yet to find a dish in this cookbook that isn't divine! 
Available through Kinokuniya
 

4. MICROSOFT BAND 

My husband, a total gadget head, is drooling over the Microsoft Band- a smart watch and fitness tracker rolled into one. Track your heart rate, steps, sleep quality and calorie burn with this ambitious little device. They're selling like hotcakes, so if you plan on leaving one under the tree, secure it quickly!
Order through Microsoft
 

6. NUTS ABOUT BUTTER 




 

Few training methods are more effective for building muscle and torching fat simultaneously than the humble kettlebell, which can be used just about everywhere. Newbies should begin with a lighter weight: 8kg, 10kg and 12kg kettlebells make a good starter pack for both men and women! 
http://www.movementfirst.sg/11-kettlebells


7. MEDITATION CUSHION 

The benefits of meditation are well-known, ranging from stress relief to heightened concentration and creativity to increased happiness and awareness. Committing to a daily meditation practice only requires a few minutes out of your morning and evening- and it's much easier if you have a designated place for it. Look for a meditation cushion that's comfortable and fuss-free. This one is for purchase at Evergreen Buddhist Cultural Centre in Pearl Centre. 


9. ZOLO BARBELL STACKER RATTLE          


Get them weight training early- very early! ;-)  
This super cute barbell rattle keeps baby
interested and occupied, as well as aiding
in dexterity development and hand eye 
coordination. Available on Amazon.com 

 

 

 


 

11. ADIDAS "ICONIC" BAG

The "Iconic" bag by Stella McCartney for Adidas is feminine yet utilitarian, with pockets for shoes, toiletries, and an exercise journal. Available at select Adidas outlets. 


13. KITCHENAID DIAMOND BLENDER

From smoothies to soups to protein shakes, this hot pink little number has you covered. No need for a fancy juicer- KitchenAid blenders always come out on top for their power, price point and reliability. Available at select KitchenAid stores. 

15. WOOLF WORKS MEMBERSHIP 

Every woman needs a dream and a
 room of one's own to accomplish it. 
Woolf Works, a calm and inspiring women's co-working space in Joo Chiat, offers entrepreneurs, artists, creatives and stay-at-home moms the space and community to pursue their passions. As a holiday treat for Tangram Fitness fans, come into Woolf Works for the day for a free trial AND get 50% off a private Pilates session with Amie Wang of Play it Fit (subject to availability, email info@woolfworks.sg for more details)
http://www.woolfworks.sg/


 

If you're looking for the perfect pre-workout snack to fuel your kettlebell session, try nut butter and banana slices on whole grain bread 60-90 minutes before you head to the gym. Kareen Lai of Mums In Sync has officially launched her yummy premium brand of nut butters, Nuts About Butter, which can be delivered right to your door in Singapore. This is the perfect stocking stuffer for runners, weightlifters, and yogis alike.
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nuts-About-Butter/


8. PINK GINGER SPORTS MASSAGE
 

As a licensed Massage Therapist and multiple Ironman triathlon finisher, Pink Ginger Founder and Lead Therapist, Neridah Lock, intimately understands the injury prevention and pain management needs of today's athlete. Pink Ginger is giving all Tangram Fitness clients 25% off on a 60 minute massage booked through www.pinkginger.com.sg from now until Monday, Dec. 15th. Be sure to include "Tangram Fitness" in the enquiry form! 


 

10. NEW RULES OF LIFTING FOR WOMEN 

For those ready to step off that treadmill and get into the weight room, "The New Rules of Lifting for Women" is a fantastic resource for getting started with a strength training program. Available through Kinokuniya and Amazon.com



12. DRAGONFLY RESORT WEAR
 

Banish the post-workout fuss with elegant, easy and wrinkle-free pieces from Dragon Fly Resort Wear. Maxi dresses, jumpers and breezy separates guarantee a fabulous look following a serious sweat no matter how sweltering the day is. 
https://www.facebook.com/dragonflyresortwear

14. BEATS WIRELESS EAR BUDS 

You know the drill... you're jogging along, bopping to your favorite tunes, when all of the sudden your elbow catches your headphones wire and your earbuds go flying out of their canals, taking your device down with them. It happens to pretty much everyone! With the new Beats wireless ear buds, the issue is eliminated and the tunes are amplified. 
Purchase through the iPhone store. 

 
16. THE BARBIE GIRLS PRODUCE 

beefharmony.jpg

Serve up something scrumptiously healthy and hormone-free this Christmas with The Barbie Girls wide selection of antibiotic- and hormone-free produce from Australia, New Zealand and Europe. Christmas hams from an ethical and clean family farm in the UK are on their way to Singapore, and they have special selection of Festive Packages as well. 
http://www.thebarbiegirls.com/
 

 

Wishing you a healthy and hassle-free holiday season that inspires you to get moving, motivated and mindful in 2015! If you haven't signed up already, clarify your vision and your action plan for a fit, fabulous New Year at the "Creating Your Vision for 2015" workshop, this Saturday, Dec. 6th at 10am. Be kind to yourself! 

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April Update: Finding Fun in Fitness

Skating around the park in my new (SUPER COOL & HIP) Rollerblades.

Skating around the park in my new (SUPER COOL & HIP) Rollerblades.

I've got a question for you- does fitness ever feel like a total drag? Are you the type of person who resolves to get into shape every single New Year’s Eve, only to give it all up by the time April rolls around? Are you that lady in the gym, lethargically pedaling on the stationary bike while watching reruns of “Downton Abbey” on your iPad? Listen up: it does NOT have to be this way!

Today was one of the happiest afternoons I’ve had in a while…because today I bought a fancy pair of rollerblades and spent a good hour zooming around the park. You see, rollerblading was my absolute favorite thing to do as a child, and it was how I got around my former home, New York City, throughout my early twenties. But then, people started saying stuff like, “are you still skating around on those things?” or “rollerblading is so nineties,” and I soon noticed that I was one of the only folks traveling through Central Park on four wheels. Reluctantly, I tucked those rollerblades under my bed, giving up my favorite pastime for ten whole years. 

I share this with you because I truly believe that staying fit can be a total blast and that our exercise preferences should never be dictated by the fashion of the times. If you’re dragging your fluorescent trainers to Zumba class or spending your mornings showing off your Lululemons in downward facing dog just because all your girlfriends are doing the same thing, I can tell you right now that in the long run, this approach is not going to keep you fit (or happy).

Movement is meant to light you up, to energize you, to restore that sense of freedom and buoyancy that you experienced as a kid. Maybe you used to pass your afternoons climbing every tree or rock in town, or spend hours perfecting your dance moves in your bedroom. Perhaps you were a gymnast or a volleyball player or a track fiend in high school. Maybe you get your thrills from the weight room or the boxing ring or an MMA class.

Immerse yourself in activities that ignite you and invite play into your life, and you’ll uncover a fitness plan with some actual sticking power. Weightlifting might not be considered “ladylike” and rollerblading is apparently still passé, but they put a smile on my face like nothing else. Find your fun in fitness and you’ll never again worry about having to do something you hate in an attempt to feel good… which doesn’t make much sense in the first place, does it? 

Alright my fitness friend, that's it for now. Time to find some fun to get into! 

Love, light and lifting,

Aimee 


 

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Tangram Moves: The Slo Mo Firecracker

The Slo Mo Firecracker is an exercise I created based on the highly advanced MMA Firecracker, which is shown in the second video below. My version is appropriate for intermediate to advanced bootcampers who are comfortable with plyometric movements. 

Slo Mo Firecracker

Highly Advanced MMA Version

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