7 ways to get healthier in Bangkok TODAY!

Bangkok is an awesome place to live, but the hectic nature of the city and its expat lifestyle means that you have to make an effort to stay strong and healthy. It can get on top of you, if you let it.

We all know that we need to eat well and exercise to stay healthy, but beyond that here are a few quick fixes that will help you to counter some of the impact the city can have on your body and mind.

1. Leave at least once a month

This amazing place is only a few hours from Bangkok – go there!

Being constantly surrounded by people, tall buildings, noise and concrete is not natural or good for you. Too long in this environment can impact you in ways you don’t realise. Bangkok has so many awesome nearby getaways – Khao Yai, Samet, Kanchanaburi and Hua Hin are all just a few hours away – so treat yourself and recharge at least once a month, preferably more.

2. Order your smoothies, shakes and delicious Thai iced teas and drinks without sugar

Bangkok’s fruit shakes and smoothies are awesome, but with all the sugar syrup that’s added they’re not a million miles away from drinking Coke. Years ago, I remember seeing a woman prepare my Thai chai manow (lemon tea) by loading tablespoon after tablespoon of pure sugar into the drink. Tasted damn good, but it made the beverage a huge source of the worst kind of calories. Get your shakes with no sugar by politely asking “mai sai nam dtan loey krup/ka” (please don’t add any sugar).

3. Spend time in the parks

If you struggle to get out of the city, at least spend some time in the city’s parks. They provide a nice respite from the chaos and are a great place to relax or move around. Check out my guide to Bangkok’s parks for more info on where to go.

4. Be wary of eating out and cut out MSG

Bangkok has some of the world’s most amazing street food, and a whole array of fantastic restaurants. But just be aware that restaurants will do whatever they need to do to make their food super-tasty, which usually means lots of added fat and sugar.

One big culprit is added MSG, which is very commonplace. I love som tum, but if you watch it being prepared you’ll often notice that bucketloads of MSG is added (to make it more aroi, of course). MSG is best avoided by everyone, and a lot of people are actually allergic to it. Politely ask “mai sai pong choo rod krup/ka” (please don’t add MSG).

Ultimately, to be sure of what you’re eating you have to buy and prepare the food yourself.

Implement these 7 things into your life to help you survive in the Concrete Jungle

5. Move around as much as possible

Many of my clients are expats with desk jobs that require minimal physical exertion. Bangkok expats commonly sit down at a chair all day, get driven home by their driver and then sit down to watch TV or eat. All that time sat down and not moving is going to destroy your body and health. Some high intensity exercise helps, but it should also be complimented with as much movement in everyday life as possible. Take the stairs, walk around the office, stand up and roll your shoulders back and stretch out, walk that skytrain stop, jump out of your chair and do some jumping jacks (probably best if you work from home). In summary, our bodies were designed to move, so try and be conscious of moving them as much as possible.

6. If you’re going to a function/event/birthday, then eat perfectly in the daytime

This point is so important I think it’s deserving of its own article. Many people I speak to here talk about how hard it is to lose weight and eat well when they have so many functions, meetings and events to attend. All with obligatory drinks with clients, large buffets etc. The solution is simple, exercise some balance by eating perfectly (lots of vegetables, a little fruit, perhaps some lean meat) and sparingly in the daytime leading up to the event. This will produce a large calorie deficit which you can happily fill by eating and drinking what you want in the evening, within reason. More on this soon.

7. Read BangkokFitness.com once a week and set some goals!

OK, I admit it – reading my blog isn’t going to magically transform you into a warrior or a Victoria Secret model ; ) … but it might provide some inspiration to improve yourself or find out about a race or event that you can aim for (article on goal setting coming soon!)

Develop and progress by implementing these 7 things into your life today.

Good luck!

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Tabata

There’s a lot of hype at the moment about High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), and with good reason. It’s been featured in newspapers and magazines a lot recently and in my line of work I often get asked about it.

The idea behind this kind of training is that you complete high intensity bursts of exercise (as close to ‘all out’ as you can) for typically 20-45 seconds, with recovery periods that can be either complete rest or low intensity.

This kind of training is preferably done with something that you can hit with 100% intensity, such as sprinting, rowing or plyometric exercises such as lunge jumps or squat jumps. Something like press ups wouldn’t be ideal, unless you were firing through the repetitions fast or making the exercise explosive by bringing your hands off the ground or clapping at the top of the movement.

Below is a YouTube video of me completing a HIIT workout known as Tabata. Tabatas are 4 minutes long and are made up of 8 rounds of 20 seconds of high intensity exercise followed by 10 seconds of complete rest.

I believe that regardless of your fitness goals, high intensity exercise should make up part of your program. Our bodies respond very well to short bouts of all out effort and it helps to burn fat, build muscle and improve your cardio, especially for sport where short intense bursts of running and jumping are required for successful performance.

This kind of training will leave you feeling strong and energized, especially if all you’ve been doing are long, steady runs or cycles. I will write a piece soon on some ways to practice interval training that you can do anywhere.

If you are interested in learning more about High Intensity Interval Training and how it can benefit you, or if you’d like to schedule some HIIT sessions then please contact me.

Bangkok Midnight Run 20th October 2012

Hi everyone! I’ve been quite inactive recently on BangkokFitness but all that will change, along with a revamp of the site at some stage soon. Anyway, onto some event info!

One of Thailand’s more interesting runs is the Amari Bangkok Midnight Run, which takes place through the traffic of Bangkok on a Saturday night (no prizes for guessing what time it starts). It’s about as crazy as it sounds, with motorbikes, cars and mouthfuls of traffic fumes all par for the course. Despite these obstacles, it is great fun and the looks from people drinking and partying in and around Sukhumvit are priceless.

There are two races – the 6km and 12km – although the real distances are more like 6.5km and 11.5km, which can be a bit confusing if you’re trying to run at a set pace. There are no distance markers and it’s a little haphazardly organized, but that’s just part of the fun!

This year’s race takes place on 20th October 2012 which gives you 10+ weeks to prepare – which is bucketloads of time to get your running shoes on and into one of Bangkok’s parks for some training.

My post on last year’s event has a running plan to help you prepare for the race, or contact me if you’d like some advice or a more specific plan for your training.

Here is the official site for the Amari Midnight Run.

Last year’s ‘before’ photo

ImageLast year’s ‘after’ photo (with the bootcamp crew)


 Good luck to everyone that takes part!