Sunday, 18 November 2012

How to Lose (x)kg

I am in no way shape or form a certified health practitioner, nutritionist or someone who's been studying for years on end to learn how to tell people what to eat or do, so don't take this all to heart. I was just asked by one of my mum's friends (she's mine too) on how to lose that last little bit of weight, so I decided to come up with an extremely loose and flexible sort of guide.

Around this time, everyone indulges on the Christmas feasts and the NYE drinks, so it might be a good idea to keep your weight in check and watch what you eat so you can feel a little less guilty come December 25 and 31.

A Sort of Guide to Losing the Last Kilos

I'd like to make this three sections:
- food
- exercise
- mind
and since I was asked to make a food plan, I won't delve into the exercise area too much.

Food
I know there's low carb diets out there, but they focus on carbs being energy, whereas I'd like you to focus on them being things that inhibit nutrient absorbtion (that's a whole other story), and while nutrients aren't going to help you lose weight as such, they're just healthier. Basically, what I want you to do is, if you're going to have grains or legumes or nuts or seeds of any kind (not that nuts and seeds fall under the 'carbs' heading as much as grains), be sure to soak them first. On that note, try to go for whole grains (eg whole chickpeas) over ground up ones (eg store bought hummus).

Limit condiments if you can. They can easily add up and make you eat an unnoticed thousands more calories than without them. There are low-cal alternatives though, like lemon juice, cayenne pepper, tahini, hummus, olive oil, or any other sauces that you can find with an ingredient list without numbers or that is homemade. Also, limit salt (sodium) consumption, as salt holds water, and the more salt you have in you, the more water you'll hold and the more your belly could stick out.

Drink more water! Sometimes you think that you're hungry when you're actually thirsty so grab a glass of water before you grab something to chew on and if you're still hungry 15 - 20 mins later, then go and have something filling (FIBRE - think fruits and veggies). Better still, have a glass of lemon water (lemon juice squeezed in water), which won't necessarily do much calorie-burning but it's always a good option for digestion :)

Lastly, this may seem very I-have-a-life-and-it-doesn't-revolve-around-food-I'm-not-going-to-do-that, but when you eat, really try to eat it slowly and concentrate on it as much as you can. That doesn't mean have a staring contest with it, but just avoid eating while watching tv, while driving, while working or basically when there's something you're doing that's more important than the meal itself. Eating and talking with people, on the other hand, is definitely approved. Eating fast and while not concentrating makes food easier to wolf down and a. your digestive system won't know what's hitting it and b. you'll end up eating more calories before you realise you're full.

Exercise
When people want to lose fat, they go and do as much cardio as they can before they collapse, and cardio is great, but sometimes you need to keep your muscles going. So make sure you do some strength training in your workouts, and if you can, aim to have it at a strength:cardio ratio of 50:50 to like 90:10. Strength training is super important because when you build muscle, the muscle itself requires calories during the day just by sitting there and looking pretty, so even when you're doing absolutely nothing, someone who weighs the same as someone else, but has more muscle mass, will burn more energy and will need more energy when they're doing nothing (or everything).

Sometimes, a stomach that is... not so supermodel styled can also be a result of bad transverse abs, which are the muscles that hold the gut all nice together (these abs are one of four of the types of abs we have). When you do your strength training, try to get some ab work in, especially for this area. That could include bicycles, moves that make you look like a V like boat pose, single or double leg jackknife, double leg lifts, and also planks.

Mind
The most important part! You're not going to lose weight if you think you won't lose weight. You have to tell yourself that you are amazing and can resist that cookie and can stay in that pose if you want to get rid of the flab. Positivity in not just weight loss but in your whole life will get you places but if you start with positive fat-losing then... it will be good. I don't know. Tell yourself that you are beautiful. Right now. Out loud. If you don't think you're pretty now, you won't later.

Probably the best meal of the week is the soul food, and this sort of meal, as the name suggests, is good for the soul. This soul food is whatever you want IN A SMALL AMOUNT. Not microscopic, but enough to keep you satisfied and on track. All I'm saying is, have a cheat meal once a week (or two little snacks) to keep you sane.

It can be hard to stick to your goals when you've lost so much weight already and you just want to give in to the cake but if you want to lose that last little bit, you're going to have to be more diligent and remember that the less you weigh, the less calories you're going to burn doing the same exercises as you had done when you were yay-kg heavier. I'm not quite sure on the logics of that one but that's how it goes.

And finally, when you can't remember why you're eating the 329839th salad you've had all week, create a board or iphone background or some sort of visual space where you can put your goals. It might be a piece of paper saying that you want to feel more confident or something, it might be a picture of someone looking healthier, or it might be... anything! I don't know what your specific goals are. But whatever it is that you want to achieve, pop it up there on that space and look at it from time to time to remember why you started and what you want to finish with.

I hope that covers enough... Sorry for not making a specific meal plan for you but I guess I'm not a big meal-plan person. I don't believe in 'eat 2/3 cup oatmeal and 7 slices of a royal gala apple cut into 5cm long slices and a level teaspoon of honey on top for breakfast and if you don't you'll be fat' sort of thing because it all depends on what you want to eat and when it feels best for you to eat it. I hope you can all gain something from this incredibly long post... Time for bed now! (that reminds me! Get tons of sleep - 8 hours - and that'll be good for the weight loss journey too) Good night!

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