Living the High Energy Life
Blog | Life and Leadership | July 21, 2017
“I actually became more productive because of exercise. Both at home and at work.” Angel says. In a few months Angel Nang-Pascual has transformed into a superfit superwoman, and she shares about how giving more, in terms of physical exercise, actually gave her back more energy, multiplied her capacity, and increased her abilities.
“It started with a discontentment with how I feel; I was increasingly feeling sluggish. And I knew that I was gaining weight in the past 2-3 years and I haven’t been in the best shape.” Angel says, sharing why she wanted to make a change in her life. “I realized that I was not in my best physical and mental state.”
As part of ROHEI’s Guest Experience team, Angel’s role is one that is action-packed and requires quick thinking and an able body. Tasks can range from planning and coordination, troubleshooting equipment issues, to transporting chairs and setting up a room in record time. As members of the workforce know all too well, keeping up with daily challenges and work routines, we can one day wake up to find ourselves trapped in unhealthy cycles. And that’s where Angel found herself in December 2016.
As the year 2016 was ending, Angel and her husband Abiel evaluated their lives and made goals for the coming year. “Abiel and I decided, let’s invest in our health and fitness.”
And so began Angel’s journey to wellness.
“We talked to different people who have gone ahead and were successful at forming good habits, and they were inspirational to us. At the same time we realized that inspiration was just the tip of the iceberg. You need to have a conviction of your own to progress.”
Saying no so that you can say yes.
“We had to say no to a couple of commitments that we are taking on, because our days were already full. We decided to streamline our life,” she explains. She and Abiel decided to block out mornings—a time slot that didn’t compete with any other activities, such as socializing. “At night, people want to hang out, you have your social life, so we blocked out the morning. We said to each other, this is our schedule, this is something that we will not compromise.”
From toiling to enjoying
The beginning was tough. “It’s a lot of discipline, the first two months was just, questioning yourself, like why am I doing this? The first two months was just toiling.”
But then things started to change.
“On the third month I realized, oh I do actually like it.”
“At a certain point, I kind of got a breakthrough. I do think there’s a value in living a disciplined life. When you are disciplined in something, you actually start to enjoy the process of disciplining yourself. Exercising — the more you do, the more it increases your capacity for enjoyment, that’s one of the things that I discovered.”
“Embarking on the journey of fitness has been more mental and emotional than it is physical. For me physical is easy to fix. At the end of the day, it’s a battle of the mind.”
“Surprisingly, sooner after we started, we realized that for the times that we’re left with, we have so much energy left if we compare what we are now and what we were a year ago, we are actually doing a lot more now, with the exercise in the schedule.”
After waking up earlier (Angel wakes up at 5AM) and increasing physical activity, Angel and Abiel would end up with more energy.
Angel gets home at 10 PM and still has the energy to cook, prep a meal for an hour, and even do online shopping for groceries after that. “I don’t crash in bed, being so tired. Because I am so energized.”
I actually became more productive because of exercise. Both at home and at work, so it’s really, really tangible stuff.” Angel’s colleagues have noticed the change. “My boss Fran says she noticed that my level of self-management increased.” Angel is able to concentrate better at work, and feels that her mind is sharper. “I am seldom sleepy after lunchtime,” she also notes. “I am able to manage my energy more. I feel like I am able to maximize it because I can do things faster. Also, it gives me a bigger emotional reserve to handle a lot of things.” There are times Angel has to work 12-hour shifts, and the early start leaves no time for a morning work-out. But even after a 12-hour day at work, she still has energy to go to the gym.
“The biggest change I have observed in myself is really the energy. Physical, but also emotional energy as well as mental energy.”
The daily battle
Even with the high energy, every day is still a new day of fighting and renewing your sense of discipline.
“When you’re in the gym doing burpees, it’s hard; sure, and it’s just one hour and you’re done, but you fight the whole day.” The battle is not over until the day ends. “By 6:00pm you’re mentally tired from facing all the temptations. A good day for me is a day that I can eat well. It means I have fought well; it’s really not easy.”
“So I do have my challenges and days that I break down and cry, and question my journey, but those are the days that also make me realize that nothing of value comes for free, you really have to fight. Through discipline you learn to enjoy things that are good for you, beneficial for you. It’s really by the grace of God. Every morning I’ll wake up and I’m like, Lord give me the discipline.”
Love what is good for you
“You can train yourself to love something through discipline. I can’t imagine—the lifestyle, the exercises, the kind of food I eat, I wouldn’t have imagined to be loving, supposedly living a restrictive life. But when you enjoy things that are within that boundary, it’s actually sweeter. Learn to love things that are good for you.” This is one of the lessons Angel treasures the most from the experience.
“Change is not always comfortable but once you start to enjoy those things there’s a lot of pleasure in it. Discipline actually increases the pleasure you get out of things you can do, things that are good for your body. Once you really stick to it and do something, discipline and schedule, you realize that you can actually change.”
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“Fitness is a lifestyle. You can’t just focus on exercise and expect your body to be at its optimum. What goes into your body is more important than how you actually spend it. You can’t out-train a bad kitchen and abs are made in the kitchen are a couple of the popular mantras in the fitness world today.
“It’s so true, the week that I junk a lot, I find that at least the cardiovascular abilities suffer. I don’t know if there is any research but in my experience you actually feel very sluggish. I would eat lots of sugar, lots of fried food the night before, then the next morning when I try to run, it’s like it’s so tough; you’re so heavy, you’re just lethargic.”
Angel became extremely food-conscious after a crazy post-sugar high hangover. “One day, I thought to myself, I’m exercising anyway, so I went to eat a series of things, a lot of sugar.” The next day she woke up with a migraine and couldn’t get out of bed, couldn’t move the whole day. “my face was swollen, my hands, my fingers my feet, my body literally seemed bloated; and overnight I gained like 2-3 kg overnight. I was so alarmed, I was like, what happened to me; when I googled, I was having symptoms of sugar crash.” After that experience she decided to eat right, and plan her eating well. Angel shares with us some of her tips on food:
Realize the need for good food
I realized that I was spending so much time and effort in exercising but if I didn’t fix my food intake, everything that I was doing would just go to waste.
Manage the quality and quantity
It started with just being aware of what your body actually needs. Of course you really have to think about calories. Eating well is not just about calories but the quality and quantity that you eat.
Make good food choices when eating out
I started with small steps—choosing healthier options wherever I would be. So in the hawker centre, I would look for what is the least greasy, less fried. Whatever option that I can find that is healthier, I would choose that. Slowly I would transit to finding better restaurants. For example, Soup Spoon is at least wholesome, they don’t use MSG.
Nutrition over taste
The best way to get wholesome food is to make it on your own. So I started meal prepping. One thing led to another; now I keep ingredients to a minimum. I don’t try to overcomplicate things. I’m figuring out that eating healthy is very simple; it doesn’t have to be gourmet. I was also inspired by what my colleague Shirley said about Watchman Nee, about eating food that is good for your body. As opposed to what your mouth craves, for example.
Keep it simple and fresh
The moment you eat healthy, and if you give yourself that, you will start to enjoy things that you hated before, like chicken breast, leaves. I hated chicken breast; I thought it was so dry. When I learned to cook, I learned how to make it less tasteless. I used to roast veggies, but sometimes when I really don’t have time, I boil it, season it with coconut oil. Fresh food tastes better than those that are greasy. Its funny because I now start to enjoy the healthy, wholesome food a lot. I still crave the bad food but at least when I’m enjoying good food I feel fulfilled; my body really thanks me for it. I can feel my body is clean, nice, and energized. So I do make my own food; now I pack my snacks. I don’t eat out. These days I only eat what I get from the grocery. Except coffee.
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