The Fit For Life element requires reflections in TWO of the following three areas: Practice of Exercise, Healthy Habits, and Mindfulness.

(submitted by Hiyori Takashima to meet the Practice of Exercise requirement of Fit For Life)

Although I wanted to join the volleyball team, since I had been on varsity both freshman and sophomore years, the rehearsals for Xanadu clashed with the volleyball schedule, so I could not play this year. So instead of keeping my fitness up through that, I decided to run at this running course at a park close to my house. Until this point, I had never really thought much of running; I did not hate it, but I did not exactly enjoy it either. I hope though, that I would be able to improve my time compared to my initial time.

I tried to run as many days as possible, from around every other day. During the breaks I was able to live up to that goal, however when there was school, especially with after school activities almost every day, it was very difficult to keep up with this. Nevertheless, I tried to run at least 2-3 times a week. During the winter, it got dark very quickly, and the cold temperature made it tempting to skip that running day. During the summer, although it gets dark quite late, the humidity and the temperature is so extreme it almost seems bad for your health. It is often warned on TV during this time of year to make sure to drink lots of water and keep cool so that people are not affected by heat stroke. To overcome this, I was thinking now to switch onto a gym, so that at least during this hot season, I would still be able to run, but within the cool building of a gym on a treadmill. In general though, there were many days where I was just tired and did not feel like being up to going on a run. However, I reminded myself of the rewarding, accomplishing feeling after completing a run. I also found out that it was a wonderful break from my studies at times, and my post-run self can focus on my work even more, so these acted as motivation to me. On the days I do not run, I do these routines on YouTube called blogilates, and these exercises help me strengthen different parts of my body, from my legs, to my arms to my cores.

At first I set the distance of my runs quite low, but it was still difficult to pace myself and complete the whole run. Now that I look back at my progress on the nike running app, it is evident the progress I had made over the course of the past few months.

As you can see here, I first started out by being able to run barely 3km, however recently I have been able to run 5km without having much difficulties. When running, I did notice that I became better at pacing myself, however I did not realize that I had improved this much.

It is difficult to continue this sometimes, but I hope that I will continue to improve my score and keep up my fitness while running. Running I think also strengthens you both physically and mentally, and being able to go past the ‘giving up’ negative thoughts would I think be useful in other aspects of my life as well.

Varsity Soccer
(submitted by Hina Washizu to meet the Practice of Exercise requirement of Fit For Life)

The soccer season consisted of a number of games against international schools and two major tournaments; WJAA and AISA. We had about 3 practices each week where we trained and prepared for these events. All of us on the team love the sport and was there to have fun but we also looked forward to winning some matches. At the start of the season, I set up a couple goals for myself and that was to improve skills, become a better team player and to win AISA. There were 15 people on our team led by Coach Noon and Brown.

I really committed myself to the season this year by training outside of after school practices; I went on jogs a couple times a week to better my fitness. The team had a number of bonding sessions where we got to know each other better and this led to better communication on the pitch. I was assigned to play a new position this season. It was difficult at first but I took on this challenge and developed new skills.

At the end of the season, we travelled to Korea where we participated in the AISA tournament. Over the two days we played a number of games with teams that we have never played against before. Everyone on the team was committed to winning every match, this commitment led us to the finals.  It was a really difficult game, and at the end, we became the champions! This was the first time since I started playing in Varsity soccer that we won the AISA tournament; in previous years, we often lost in the finals so I was really happy about this win.

Playing in a team sport helps me stay healthy as I am able to stick with an exercising schedule. I am also more aware of what I eat because I want to be choosing foods with nutrients that would give me more energy.

Not only were we able to finish the season with a great win, we also made many wonderful memories along the way.

Cross Country & Pilates
(submitted by Young Jin Seo to meet the Practice of Exercise requirement of Fit For Life)

Last January, I injured my self while playing field hockey and was diagnosed with ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) injury. To recover, I got the surgery to create a new ligament using my thigh muscles over spring break in April. Since then, I have had rehabilitation program (which ended a month ago) and started to get back on my feet in preparation for field hockey and soccer in my senior year.

As one of the rehabilitating activities, I began to run. I did get into the habit of running with the aim of becoming fitter back in 10th grade and have done so up until the injury. But going back to running after the surgery was quite intimidating. I wasn’t quite sure if I was ready for it, and afraid that I could injure myself and have to go through the painful process of relying on crutches and the excruciating pain. One step at a time, I found myself enjoying the routine of running at the nearby park area and my leg muscles strengthening up again.

To push myself further in terms of running, and also to become fitter, I joined the cross country team in the Autumn sports season. I attended practices three times a week (Tuesday morning, Wed & Thurs after school). I thought that it wouldn’t be so difficult because I ran on my own time and figure out I wouldn’t be so un-fit. But running with a crowd and attending competitions was very different from my usual routine. It was stressful to be the last one during races and see other people dash off when I was out of breath. Also because I couldn’t choose the route and as it became a commitment rather than a choice, I became discouraged at the beginning of the season.

However, as I got used to running at times when I personally didn’t feel like it, and also running up huge hills, I learnt to cope with it. The competition was a source of motivation to push myself to become faster, and I found a way to get over my lack of motivation for practices and meets. I was very surprised to see my time (when running at my previous routine by myself) improve by 3 minutes over the course of a month. It is still slow compared to real committed runners, but cross country is an individual sport. At the end of the day, I am competing with my will power and previous records.

Another rehabilitation activity that I have been using is pilates. Pilates is very similar to yoga in terms that it uses the yoga mat and requires very few materials when exercising. However, pilates focuses on strengthening your core and the overall endurance of your body muscles. This was especially recommended by my rehabilitation doctor who said that it is important to focus on building balanced thigh muscles as one of the main causes of my injury was an imbalance between my outer and inner thighs.

Luckily, I had discovered a great free, online pilates instructor on YouTube back before my injury. Her name is Cassey Ho, and I found her workouts so effective in toning my body. Her enthusiasm when instructing is also another reason why I love her workouts. Easy accessibility online and few workout equipments made it so easy to include pilates into my busy school work schedule.

All in all, I am very happy that I have developed a fitness routine into my daily life as a result of the ACL injury. I was sort of forced to do all of these activities before, but learnt to love and enjoy them for my personal benefit. These endurances that I have developed will be useful for the upcoming field hockey and soccer seasons and continue to do so in my future life.


Sleep Cycle Observations
(submitted by Young Jin Seo to meet the Healthy Habits requirement of Fit For Life)

As one of the two criterion for Fit for Life, I chose to observe my sleep cycle for a month. This was easy to do as I use an iPhone application Sleep Cycle which is not only an alarm clock but also a sleep quality measuring device. It does this by using a movement censor on the phone and wakes you up when your sleep it as the lightest sleep phase.

Keeping a record of the amount of sleep I get, and the quality of it made me realize how unhealthy my sleeping pattern is. In average I got around 5 hours of sleep every day. This was not enough and the quality of the amount of sleep I received was analyzed to be very low.
I found out that I had higher quality of sleep when I got at least 6 hours of sleep. Also, I felt better on those days and managed to be energetic throughout the entire school day. This negatively affected my level of concentration and at the end, the productivity. The month of May of especially difficult to handle the work load as I was faced with numerous assignments and exam preparations. Trying to study and cram for them made me stay up late and therefore, sleeping less.

From this month observation, I learnt how valuable sleep could be when it comes to concentration at school and also that I should be more organized to get work done in less amount of time and get more sleep for the next day. Another thing was that exercising helped me to sleep with better quality as my muscles were tired and slept to replenish for the day after. As the IB work load piles on, I will try to maintain a good balance of work and sleep for a healthy life style.

Nutrition & Healthy Eating
(submitted by Kai Iwamoto to meet the Healthy Habits requirement of Fit For Life)

From when I was little, my mom used to always be mindful of the foods she bought and the food that she would feed us. She would only buy organic ingredients and would cook meals with low amounts of sodium and fats and oils. Now that I am older, I am becoming more mindful of what I am feeding myself. I started to use a very handy iPhone application called ‘My Fitness Pal’ and recorded all of my food intake. By doing so, I became more aware of what I was eating too much of and what I did not have enough of.

On days where I passed my goal calorie intake, like the 30th, I would look at my nutritional facts sheet and see what I had gone over in. Then, I was able to improve my choice of foods from the next day on. I try to include a lot of vegetables, fruits, and fibers in the morning, carbohydrates and protein for lunch, and then vegetables, protein, and fruits for dinner and dessert. I have realized that I should skip any excessive snacks and replace them with fruits or nuts. I have also decreased the amount of empty carbohydrates I eat such as chips, potatoes, white bread. Instead, I replace them with whole wheat material. By making these decisions, I realized that my strength is making improvements while my weakness can be decreasing the amount of empty carbs I eat. However, I have kept record of all the things I eat, so I am able to reflect on my daily intake and either be proud or disappointed. I think that a new skill that I have gained is to reflect critically of myself. Self-criticism is the most encouraging and motivational way to improve oneself.

I still am continuing to record my food intake today, and I can definitely say that it has made me become more aware of what I am putting into my body, good and bad!!

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