#TopfitMorning week 2: of cravings and resistance

As the workout intensity increases for our three challengers, so do their food cravings

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 March, 2016, 10:42am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 March, 2016, 11:47am

Two weeks into the SCMP’s #TopfitMorning fitness challenge and some frustrations and cravings have kicked in for our three challengers. Only one has continued to drop weight, while for the other two the scales haven’t budged. The photos, however, don’t lie: everyone is leaner and glowing healthily like never before.

We checked in with the challengers as well as their personal trainers to find out what they’ve been up to in week two.

Challenger: Lee Tsui

After shedding 2 kilograms in the first week, Tsui hasn’t lost more - in spite of doubling the weights in his workouts and drastically cutting his food intake to just 2,000 calories a day.

“I was frustrated at first, but I do look different,” says Tsui, whose goal is to lose 14kg over 12 weeks. “I’m gaining a lot more dense muscle and losing fat for sure. I guess my goals are changing - I’m not that bothered about the weight anymore but about gaining definition.”

Put on a carb-free diet for the first 10 days by trainer Louis Doctrove, Tsui has had massive cravings for things like pizza and burgers. “I’ve been really struggling with food,” Tsui says, “but using the phone app to keep track of my diet has helped because you know exactly what’s hitting you in terms of calories.”

He admits to cheating once: a fish burger from Burger King for breakfast one morning while in mainland China for work. “I felt really bad about my life after eating it and for the rest of the day I just starved myself trying to purge the calories,” says Tsui. Good news for Tsui: Doctrove's putting him back on carbs until the last three weeks of the challenge.

Tsui’s move of the week: Sissy squat

“Arnold Schwarzenegger did a lot of this. The move hits the quads and arms a little bit. Hold for a couple of seconds, let the tension in the muscles build, then drive back up. This is ideal before progressing to a squat, because you can almost never do it wrong,” says personal trainer Louis Doctrove.

Doctrove and the other two personal trainers employ the German Body Composition method of training, which focuses on heavy weightlifting exercises - each circuit pairs an upper body exercise with a lower body one, with minimal rest between sets. This week, they have each provided a sample workout the challengers have done. Do circuit A three times, resting for 60 seconds in between each exercise. Then do the same with circuit B and then C.

Doctrove’s workout:

Circuit A

A1. 10x Deadlifts

A2. 10x Inclined bench presses

Circuit B

B1. 10x Wide-grip lat pulldowns

B2. 10x Front foot elevated split squats

Circuit C

C1. 10x Prowler push on track

C2. 10x Seated military presses

Challenger: Janice Lee

The scales moved slightly for Lee in week two - in the wrong direction. “I had 0.3kg of weight gain. I told [my trainer] Arnold that I wasn’t going to put on my contact lenses so that I could see things blurry,” quips the lawyer.

She has been working out extremely hard though, not only increasing the weights and reps during her Topfit sessions with personal trainer Arnold Wong, but also training with her triathlon club twice and rounding off the week with a 19km trail race on Sunday.

Wong isn’t concerned that her weight hasn’t moved. “Janice’s goal is more about body recomposition rather than weight loss,” he says.

By gaining strength, Lee will be able to power through her triathlon races, especially at the end when the going gets tough, Wong says. Having good intrinsic core strength will also help her recover more quickly from endurance training and racing.

“Her strength and technique have seen great improvements this week, and visually you can tell her body has a lot more shape, especially in the shoulders, triceps, back, bum and legs,” Wong says.

Lee’s little cheat: four tequila sodas on Saturday night - reportedly within the alcohol calorie limits set by Wong (equivalent to two margaritas).

Lee's move of the week: Goblet squat

“Stand with feet shoulder width apart and hold a dumbbell in front you as though it is a goblet. As you lower your bum, shift your weight towards the heel and midfoot while maintaining posture. The butt should be pushed outwards. This works the legs, especially the quadriceps and some hamstrings. It’s also working a little of the shoulders and core muscles,” says Wong.

Wong’s workout:

Circuit A

A1. 10x Roman deadlifts

A2. 10x Wide-grip lat pulldowns

Circuit B

B1. 10x Cable squat-to-stands

B2. 10x Bent over 45-degree barbell rows

Circuit C

C1. 10x Hamstring curls

C2. 10x Close-grip lat rows

Challenger: Elizabeth Wu

Wu has been the only one to continue to shed weight this week, down 3kg so far from her 57kg starting weight. Like the others, her workouts have gotten more intense, but because her fitness and technique have improved, her sessions - done mostly over the lunch break - are over more quickly in under an hour.

Wu says she’s also feeling less tired after her workouts, thanks to the addition of vitamin supplements into her diet. Her major cravings: red meat and some alcohol. She hasn’t given in though.

“It hasn’t been too hard to resist my cravings because the meals from food delivery company Optmeal have so far been delicious. My whole family has also been very supportive and have been eating healthily with me,” says Wu.

Wu’s move of the week: Prowler push

“The Prowler is the name of this 30kg metal structure that gets pushed around. Weights can be added on top for a tougher challenge. Hold the poles, maintain straight arms with chest out and stand tall. Push the Prowler, exaggerating the strides by lifting the knee and pushing the heel down when the foot is on the ground. Bend elbows a little but keep the arms long. This works the hamstrings and core,” says personal trainer Heanney McCollum.

McCollum’s workout:

Circuit A

A1. 12x Roman deadlifts

A2. 12x Neutral tricep curls

Circuit B

B1. 12x Dumbbell walking lunges

B2. 12x Lat pulldowns

Circuit C

C1. 12x Goblet squats

C2. 12x Standing ab twists