“Fitness never appealed to me when I was younger,” says Anna Yulo.
She played volleyball and frisbee, but she wasn’t as fit as she wanted to be.
“Being overweight was always a thing I needed to deal with and accept. Those yearly medical checkups always gave me the same results, but it wasn’t a big deal for me at the time,” Yulo, a PR and communications department head, told Lifestyle.
Then she started working. “My routine changed so much. No more sports. Lunch breaks and overtime were filled with takeout and junk food. Rolling around the office on my chair was the only form of physical activity.”
Things changed after Yulo, 29, decided to weigh herself one day. “I was almost 200 pounds (90 kilograms) and I’m only 5’4” so it was a bit alarming. I also started to notice that little physical activities would tire me out—walking up the stairs, short workouts, even laughing for too long would leave me feeling winded.”
She went on “a super strict” ketogenic diet. “When my weight started to drop, I got curious about the effects it would have on my exercise. My brother and I went to the gym, but I walked in a bit blind and just followed whatever he was doing. I went on and off for about a year, but it wasn’t as enjoyable as I wanted it to be.”
Yulo’s fitness journey intensified on what she calls “the year of the Classpass.”
“My former officemates and I challenged each other to try as many different workouts as we could. Then my barkada from college got on it, too … Safe to say that it was the year I got hooked on working out and the endorphins.”
Yulo also got into Crossfit before the pandemic. “It felt so good to be able to see what my body could do. Sadly, everything closed down before I could really get into it and join a box, so now I’m just doing it at home with the guidance of coach Ada Ty.”
Today, workouts are a regular part of Yulo’s life—she makes sure she always has time for them as she juggles work and raising her new dog.
My fitness routine/regimen:
When we moved to a more walkable city, I started to run. I was not a big fan of running but I’m starting to understand the appeal now! So my workout routine has been running, Crossfit, condo gym time and a bit of yoga.
My favorite workouts and forms of exercise:
Now it’s all running and CrossFit/Yoga at home and using the equipment available in our gym. Can we consider all those grocery runs and dog park days a form of exercise, too? A couple of minutes of walking outside in this weather turns me into a sweaty Betty!
Workout frequency: I try to move at least four to five times a week.
I work out . . . at the condo. Earlier this year, I started taking classes in Central Ground CrossFit’s new location. But everything is closed again so I’m back to working out where I can.
My fitness essentials/must-haves:
Now that I’m in a smaller space, my essentials are dumbbells, a mat (to protect the tiles), my trusty little FitBit, and a lot of willpower.
My workout playlist:
So many different genres!!! Anything to get me moving—Dua Lipa, Lizzo, Chance the Rapper, Kehlan. My friends used to give me a lot of grief about one of my favorite workout playlists—my Batang ’90s Playlist was a staple at this gym I trained in.
Do you stick to a strict diet?
A friend of mine had gone on ketogenic diet and dropped a significant amount of weight. She added me in all her keto support groups and I stayed on that diet for about a year.
Keto wasn’t sustainable for me but that first year really taught me that a lot of the weight I had gained was because of the food I was eating. When I was still going to all those different classes, I started to listen more intently and asked trainers/classmates about their nutrition. The key takeaway for me was that what I had to consume needed to fuel what I wanted to do during the day.
Right now, it’s still all about that. I’m not on a diet but I listen to my body more. When you pay attention to how your body reacts to food and how that affects your activities, then you’re more conscious about what you eat.
For example, I know that if I have the typical carby breakfast, it takes me longer to finish my runs. So if I wanna hit my target on that day, I’ll have coffee and a banana, go out for a run, and then have a bit more breakfast when I get back (like a bowl of cereal or a peanut butter sandwich).
I’ve met people who can’t skip meals and have to eat before they do any physical activity. I’d like to think there’s no “one-size-fits-all” diet—you really have to find the one that works for you and your lifestyle!
What do you usually eat in a day?
If I’m planning to run, breakfast is usually a banana. But on the days I don’t run, I’ll split a pastry with my sister or have a bowl of cereal. But always, always black coffee.
Lunch and dinner, pretty much anything goes—rice and whatever meat or fish dish we feel like preparing on that day, pasta, sandwiches, leftovers. My sister and I love to cook so if we want to eat anything in particular, we’ll try to prepare it ourselves.
I’m also a chronic snacker. Snacks would be any fruit we have in the fridge or leftover pastry from breakfast. Those generic peanuts from S&R—super good. Or I’ll have chips when I feel like it.
What’s off-limits? My sister and I started this thing called Fatty Coffee Sundays. So we’ll have black coffee the whole week. But on Sunday—oof, gimme that sweet syrupy milky coffee and a warm cookie.
Also, we try to keep our snacks to just one or two huge bags of chips in our snack cabinet for the month so we don’t end up eating too much junk during the week.
Do you have cheat days?
If I’m craving something, then I’ll have it but in moderation. If I want cookies, I’ll have one really, really good cookie. If I want chips, instead of taking the whole bag with me, I’ll pour some into a bowl. When I’m PMS-ing, though, my cravings take over. So it’s three days of Cheetos, ice cream, soft-baked cookies, greasy pizza, fries—all the junk!
What keeps you motivated?
How did the pandemic affect your fitness routine?
In terms of variety and frequency, I’m doing less. I used to take two classes a day, sometimes three. But now, I’m focusing more on consistency.
Other fitness secrets?
Find something that works for you. Again, it’s not “one size fits all!” Every body is different.
Get a group that (jokingly) gives you grief when you skip workouts. Peer pressure does wonders, honestly. But more than peer pressure, the immense support you get from a “team” really helps.
Also, be kind to your body. Sleep. Eat good food. And. Drink. Water.
Honor your rest days. I feel like humanity took a bit of a nosedive in this century—we glorified an overly packed schedule, and started carrying around our fatigue like it was some kind of trophy or award. But it’s so, so important to rest.
What tips do you want to share with people who want to get healthier?
Small progress is still progress. Celebrate your wins and call them what they are. If you weren’t moving yesterday, and today you walked for a kilometer or if you did 11 reps today instead of 10, call that a win! INQ