This athlete doctor’s advice: Live a little—but get moving

Ian likes working out in the morning.

Ian Banzon, 33, has always been an active girl. “As a kid, I liked playing outside and exploring my surroundings. I started with competitive swimming when I was 11 and from there, my love for sports just grew. My swim team was in a sports club, so sometimes we would do other sports there, too, like badminton, wall climbing, basketball, bowling, etc.”

Her love for sports never waned. “As I grew older I got involved in more organized sports. In college I was part of swimming, golf, and track-and-field varsity teams. I have been involved in a lot of sports since then, but now I do a lot more triathlon-specific training, including strength sessions at the gym.”

Today, the physician and medical and sports acupuncturist continues to focus on health and fitness—not just her patients’, but her own, as well. “As a kid, it was not a conscious decision to ‘be fit,’ but as I wanted to maximize my potential and be the best that I can be, I started to pay more attention to other factors, like sleep, nutrition, emotions, etc.”

Banzon has been in Bali for a few months now, “living a healthy and happy life.” “I am liking the fact that I am very close to nature here. It’s also not too busy so I have time to learn new things and have new experiences,” she said.

Here, she tells Lifestyle about her active lifestyle:

My fitness regimen: There is nothing super set in stone for now as I just do the things that I feel like doing. However, if I am preparing for a race, then my routine is more specific. Generally, I do prefer to get my workouts done in the morning and I work in the afternoons.

My favorite workouts and exercises: Team sports are fun to play and I enjoy them a lot. I am also used to doing individual sports like swimming, cycling or running. A lot of sports are cardio-based but I still make an effort to do resistance and weight training, as well as stretching, yoga, more yin-based exercises that are not too intense. There is really no one favorite, as I enjoy them all. It depends on my mood and company I am with.

Ian (right) with her yoga buddies

Workout frequency: Four to seven times a week; usually, at least an hour a day, but sometimes can be as long as four to five hours (if it’s a long bike ride).

I work out … I cycle outdoors (as I do not have my indoor trainer here); for running, I do both indoors and outdoors. I go to an open-air gym as well. Swimming in an outdoor pool. I do have some bands, jump rope and yoga mat at home, too.

My fitness must-haves: Good running shoes and proper sports socks. If you’re a girl, a good fitting sports bra. These are the basic essentials I would recommend. It can get more technical and specific depending on the activity or sport you do.

The apps I use are: Strava—it combines almost all the workouts I do, but mostly for cycling and running. When I am too lazy to make my own program, I use the Nike Training app for set workouts, especially for yoga. These are free apps as well, so I highly recommend them. For Strava, I do subscribe to a premium account so I can see more data and statistics, but that isn’t essential; the free version is good enough, too!

Smoothie bowl

My workout playlist: A lot of upbeat, feel-good songs, mostly pop songs but occasionally I like listening to some jazz music when I work out.

Do you stick to a strict diet? Not really, but I do tend to eat more whole foods—these are foods that are not processed or refined or have a lot of added ingredients to them. I do make an effort to have more protein. I also have low lactose tolerance so I do not have a lot of dairy products.

I also enjoy cooking my meals when I have the time. I like it because I can be creative with it with no one judging … and I know exactly what is in it.

I’m not a big fan of chips, junk, processed food (canned goods, instant noodles, etc.) but I do have a sweet tooth.

In a day, I usually eat … meat (chicken, beef or sometimes pork—bacon!), eggs, cooked veggies, some carbs (rice, sweet potatoes or sourdough bread) and a cup or two of coffee.

What’s off-limits: I don’t take carbonated drinks—my stomach does not agree with it. I also do not like MSG.

This doctor and medical and sports acupuncturist is also a triathlete.

Do you have cheat days? Not really cheat days, but days I eat a lot and indulge myself whenever I feel the need to. It is not scheduled but I try not to have a lot of it. We have to live a little, right? I can eat a lot of chocolates and bread, haha. Sometimes I eat a lot of fruits and fried stuff, too.

What keeps me motivated: Goals I have set for myself. Sometimes seeing my friends do their workouts, eat healthy and have a super fit and healthy body motivates me to do the same.

How the pandemic affected my fitness routine: I had to change and adapt to the situation, so I make do with what I have, whether it’s training indoors, solo training, less options for activities, etc.

In some ways it has forced me to be more creative and do things I never thought of before.

More fitness secrets: There’s really no secret. If anything, it’s about having fun and enjoying what you do. Eating good food and participating in sports make me happy. I think everything else follows from there. My daily choices are skewed towards the activities that will support the things I like—that just happens to involve staying fit enough to do all the things I want to do.

Tips for people who want to get healthier: Where you are right now is always a good place to start. One small thing is better than none. So, go do it. Just thinking and reading about it is not enough. It’s action time. Whether it’s saying no to a midnight snack or the second serving of dessert or managing a 30-minute walk or jog. Something is better than nothing at all.

Ian has been in Bali for a few months now.

Don’t be too hard on yourself, too; enjoy the process. If after putting in the effort, and something really and honestly doesn’t feel good, it’s okay to change your mind and do something else instead. If you slip back for a day or so, take a deep breath and get back on track. It will never be perfect but the good news is you always get points for effort. INQ

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