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a lazy person's guide to being fit and healthy (or at least trying to)

Hello to all my fellow couch potatoes and alarm-snoozers, you are all here to learn how I, a well-known idler, tried to be healthy and keep fit. Before we begin, here’s a little backstory:

In the not so distant past, the not so fictional land of Singapore was plunged into a great darkness known as “circuit breaker”; citizens unemployed, studying, retired, or working in non-essential jobs were required to stay at home for the collective safety of the country due to a raging pandemic that was claiming lives left and right -- the dreaded COVID-19. As such, your local lazy bum, along with the rest of the nation, was confined to her house for a total of approximately two months.

Being at home all that time really took a toll on my mental health and eventually it began to affect my physical health; I was sleeping at 6am and waking up at 12pm, barely doing anything other than alternating between watching Netflix and lying in various locations around my house, perfectly comatose. I’d attempted to go for a morning jog once. Once. Never again. But then it started...

I’m sure we all remember the sudden fitness craze that managed to spread faster than the pandemic did -- everyone was suddenly following fitness influencers’ videos, jogging, doing all sorts of crazy challenges. Some well-known influencers include the controversial Chloe Ting, Pamela Reif and MadFit.

Yours truly ended up putting together a one and a half hour routine consisting of a mishmash of videos from both Chloe Ting and Pamela Reif. I would do them at exactly 5pm every single day, because I had nothing better to do and it gave me a better sense of structure in my day.

You might think that exercising almost everyday would make me think I could eat anything I wanted and end up gaining more weight than I lost, but because I barely did anything the whole day, I didn’t ever feel hungry or even peckish. Additionally, as I was still sleeping close to the wee hours and waking up at noon, I ended up only eating lunch and dinner.

That’s right, I managed to quarantine myself into intermittent fasting.

Intermittent fasting, for those who are wondering, is a form of dieting where you restrict the number of hours in a day in which you can consume food; these hours can range from 6 to 12 hours, depending on your preference.

During the circuit breaker, I estimated that I only really ate any food from 12pm-8pm; I rarely consumed any snacks despite my midnight Netflix-bingeing. This accidental fasting, combined with my regular exercise routine, resulted in me losing approximately 5kg. (I do not by any means condone fad dieting or crash diets, I am simply stating what I did during the circuit breaker period.)

All in all, it was a very productive circuit breaker for me. But how is one supposed to maintain such a lifestyle when life goes back to normal, with irregular schedules and impromptu food adventures ?

Here’s how I, as a lazy person have been trying to maintain the lifestyle I led during circuit breaker into my everyday life:

1. Don’t think of exercise as an insurmountable mountain.

It’s easy to put off exercising because you think it takes up a lot of time, energy and just is A LOT in general. Exercising doesn’t always mean going to the gym and pumping weights to get buff. Sometimes, exercising (to keep fit, not lose weight) could just be doing a quick HIIT (high-intensity-interval-training) routine or two whenever you’re free.

What I’ve been doing recently is to keep a yoga mat in my room so that whenever I have a free pocket of time, maybe give or take an hour, I’ll roll it out, do some stretches and put on one of Pamela Reif’s training videos. Although these online fitness influencers are by no means equivalent to having a professional trainer in the gym, some exercise is better than none.

Also, walking is a form of exercise too! Instead of catching that bus two stops from the MRT, you could consider walking home instead if you’re not too burdened by your bags.

Getting some exercise in is not as difficult as it seems. Some people have time and energy to spend hours at the gym, some don’t. Being able to exercise in any shape or form is an achievement in itself and contributes to a vaguely healthy lifestyle.

2. Take note of what you eat.

As I previously mentioned, I do not condone fad dieting or any sort of intense crash diet. However, it is important to understand that exercise alone will not allow one to lose weight quickly or even lead a very healthy lifestyle. Diet plays a crucial part too and we need to regulate it; I don’t mean use a calorie counter, or completely ban eating certain foods, but rather be aware of your intake.

What we can do is to eat in moderation; eat whatever you want, but not to excess -- e.g a cup of bubble tea every 2-4 weeks, fast food twice a month, etc. Take note of how much of a certain food you have been eating, and if it is on the unhealthy side, make a mental note to eat it less frequently. It’s entirely up to you on how strictly you want to regulate your diet, but from the perspective of an average person, reducing the frequency of eating unhealthy food and perhaps snacking would be sufficient to achieve a relatively good balance in one’s life.

Now, I rarely eat breakfast because it makes me queasy and also because I still wake up fairly late such that it’s close enough to lunchtime that I can just hold out for a little bit. However, I do snack a lot more, especially at night when all the supper ‘jios’ come.

Ultimately, food is the bringer of life and joy, especially to us Singaporeans. To deprive us of good food is to essentially send us to a slow and early death.

Of course, if your goal is to achieve a toned bod with rock solid abs, I would definitely recommend cutting the unnecessary snacks and fatty foods. But I would also say you do not belong to the lazy person category anymore — so why are you still reading?

3. Water.

Drink lots of water. Enough said.

Just kidding, please make sure you drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. For those with no glasses, I suggest you get a prescription of one 1L water bottle to fill up and have beside you while you study, watch Netflix, game, or whatever it is you're doing. Fill it up twice a day and you're good to go! Of course, if you're exercising, do drink more water to replenish the fluids you've lost; do note that bubble tea nor Starbucks qualifies as water.

4. Sleep.

Get at least 5 hours of sleep. This is the bare minimum. You are not allowed to complain about bad skin if you're not getting enough sleep (and water!). If your workload allows, please do attempt to get 7 hours of sleep for an optimal sleep schedule.

That being said, I hope that these few tips can help you all barely functional lazy bums out there get your life together. This is a guide for maintaining a relatively healthy lifestyle that is (to me) a good balance between enjoying life and being able to even have a life to enjoy aka having a functional body. As a lazy person, these are just some small things I do to ensure I don’t collapse. Do with these tips what you will and stay strong, everyone!

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