Sunday, December 13, 2020

Be Patient So You Don't Become A Patient

Maybe the best thing to do now is nothing. To not change anything. My friend, whom I shall not name is always drawn to bright, new and shiny things. He is always after the latest fads. Especially when it comes to health and fitness.

Consider his diet. He is always following the latest 'flavour of the month'. Whether it's low carb, high fat, Atkins, South Beach, intermittent fasting etc, he's tried them all. I often tell him that his quickness in switching diets (due to not seeing results quickly enough) is probably detrimental to him losing weight.

I quoted him a study done by researchers comparing low fat and low carb diets. Participants were randomly tracked for a year. Those who lost the most weight were those who adhered to that diet. Being on either diet didn't matter as much. Slow and steady wins all the time in the long haul.

I would say this is exactly the same for fitness too. A paper published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that the best way to avoid getting injured is to slowly increase your training volume over time. Excessive and rapid increases in training loads are responsible for a large proportion of non-contact soft tissue injuries.

I travelled extensively with our Singapore badminton players and went to two Olympic Games with Team Singapore. The players had training camps and competitions all over the world and I've had the privilege of seeing world class badminton players like Lin Dan, Lee Chong Wei, Taufik Hidayat, Peter Gade and Singapore's own Ronald Susilo  train. (Below is a picture of him beating Lin Dan at the Athens Olympics).

I'm more excited than Ronald!
They all employ different strategies to build fitness and hone their court skills. Different coaches have different coaching styles. But all lead to the same objective, to be able on put the shuttlecock where they want to on court, be it with a smash or drop shot to win the point. To win the badminton match.

Sitting on court in Beijing 2008
And the key to success is that the players stick to the plan. There are many roads leading to Rome, and they get there only if they stick to their path.

If the training you did this week was twice as much as what you average over the past four weeks, you're 5 to 10 times more prone to getting injured compared to 10 percent increases in training volume and intensity.

This is especially true when my patients are returning from injury. I always tell them to err on the side of caution. Doing too much too soon may get them injured again. Our bodies need time to adapt to training loads after injury.

So as this strange, unprecedented year draws to a close, hang in there if your diet or fitness routine hasn't gone exactly to plan. Be patient, keep at it, remember it's slow and steady that always wins in the end. Patience is really a virtue.


Gabbett TJ (2016). The Training - Injury Prevention Paradox: Should Athletes Be Training Smarter And Harder? BJSM. 50(5): 273-280. DOI: 10.1136/bjsports-2015-095788.

Gardner CD, Trepanowski JF et al (2018). Effect Of Low-fat Vs Low-carbohydrate Diet On 12-month Weight Loss In Overweight Adults And the Association With Genotype Pattern Or Insulin Secretion. JAMA. 319(7): 667-679. DOI: 10.1001/jama.2018.0245.

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