Mun’s Note: This is a guest post by Zul, a regular reader at MunFitnessBlog.com. Once an active kid, his life underwent some dramatic lifestyle change after landing his first job and getting married. Between 2005 and late 2008, he gained up to 12 kilos, no thanks to the sedentary way of life and lack of exercises. His journey to getting his old back began early in 2009 and after 6 months, he lost more than 10 kilos. Zul has also written an article for Men Fitness (Malaysia) April 2011 edition.
My years living as an overweight guy were no fun. Between 2005 and 2008, I gained up to 12 kilos in weight, and in the process, drastically deteriorating my shape, confidence and health. Old friends were astonished to see my transformation from a normal active person to what I had been.
My journey back to getting my old shape began in early 2009. There are several reasons behind my goal wanting to change but let’s put in a simple way – I was tired of being easily tired. I made important dietary changes and incorporated exercises in my daily routine to get back the ideal shape have long forgotten.
As a result, I lost 12 kilos in 6 months.
My initial plan here was to write on both my diet and exercises. However, as this might cause the article to be unnecessarily long, I will cover the dietary part only. Hopefully, some day, I can also share about the exercises I did.
Here are 5 dietary changes (the points are arranged in no relative importance) that ultimately helped me achieving my weight loss goal:
1. Eating Frequency
During my ‘glory glory fat days,’ I took either 3 big meals or 2 meals (which means skipping breakfast) and most of the time, the meals comprised plenty lot carbohydrates and fats. When starting my fat loss attempt (and up until today), I began to eat more frequently, i.e. 5 meals per day.
This , by no mean, is equal to consuming more calories. I took 3 controlled portions of main meals and 2 snacks, to keep telling my body to continue burning fat as it will not go short of fuel, while keeping calories in check. It is important to stress here that, throughout my weight loss ‘program’, I did not allow my body to starve (which is contrary to popular opinion).
My dinner was also handed a new timetable. It is at 7 PM instead of the usual 9.
I made some major revamp on my menu. Some of my new meals include the following: tuna salad, scramble eggs (I would usually throw in sliced cucumber, baby tomatoes and carrots), chicken portion (fried with canola oil, steamed or boiled, and eaten with broccoli), breads (wholemeal), sandwich (egg, cheese, tuna), rice with chicken soup, and spaghetti with lots of veggies and meat. If I were to eat more than 2 eggs per day, only 2 would be whole eggs; the rest would be only the whites.
The snacks, on the other hand, come in the form of fruits (apples, pears, bananas, papayas etc.), oatmeal drinks, assorted nuts (unsalted. I found a wide range of these at Tesco – almonds, Brazil, cashew, pistachio, figs etc.), wholemeal crackers, and sometimes, protein drink (I tried Cosway, GNC and Herbalife. I am sticking with Herbalife for now).
You would see that, as much as possible, I incorporated a lot of protein and fiber to my daily meals.
When eating outside, I would look for high protein and medium carb meals (It’s difficult to find truly squeaky clean, healthy meal in my town, so this was quite a challenge). It is important to note that I never completely eliminated the food I enjoy occasionally e.g. chicken rice, Nasi Lemak (coconut rice), roti canai and so on. I enjoy the “meal cheating” because it shows that I am in control.
3. Staying Low-Carb
For the first 2 weeks, I stayed off rice. I mentioned rice specifically here because rice, like for many other Malaysians, has been my main source of carbohydrates since like…puberty. I believe my love for this starchy carbohydrates is one of the culprits for the weight problem I was having as the absence of physical activities essentially turned the carbs to fats. I decided to teach my body a lesson and made rice my nemesis for a while. This may sound easier than it was. It was not!
As an alternative, I ate bread. Even for that, I only went for wholemeal or wholegrain breads. My favorite products are Gardenia Wholemeal & Breakthru, as well as Hi-5 Wholegrain. Rice came back as part of my meal after two weeks, but I did not make it a compulsory daily consumption. For apparent health reason, I also changed from the regular starchy rice to either basmati rice or brown rice.
4. Palm Oil to Olive and Canola
We use cooking oil a lot for stir and deep frying and the popular palm cooking oil was always there in the kitchen storage. Palm oil is high with saturated fats, and is not an ally of cardiovascular health. With the new awareness, I was suggested by friends (who also happened to lose significant amount of weight) with alternatives in the form of olive oil and canola oil. They are, obviously, more expensive that the palm oil, but this move proves to be an investment worth all the money.
I’ve also been staying away from palm’s product derivatives (for example, margarine & spreads, creamers and confectionery products) since.
I drink coffee a lot and I still continue this habit. However, the way I consume it has significantly revolved. From coffee with milk (condensed), I drink plain or black. Instead of drinking 4-5 cups per day, I limited to 1 or at most, 2 (OK, I admit sometimes it is 3). Also, sugar is pretty much reduced from 2.5 teaspoons to 1 or none at all.
Additionally, I began drinking green tea (I used Lipton green tea, one of the most affordable in the market) as my new habit to increase metabolic rate. In the first month, I made sure I had at least one sugarless green tea every day.
I was never a fan of plain water (friends and family knew that too well) but I made a determined effort to drink plenty of plain water every day until now. You need to keep your body well hydrated, especially on the day you are exercising. Sometimes, I squeezed lemon into my plain water to boost up the metabolic effect.
For some, these changes may be too overwhelming and difficult. Don’t be too discouraged as you do not need to make all changes at once and within too short a time. The important thing is to commit to one or two changes at one time. Others should follow as the results begin to show. Trust me, once you start seeing the benefits, your motivation would grow and the end reward would not be too far in the horizon.
You would realize that I put quite a number of product brands in the article. It is not that I am a product advocate, marketer or anything; I tried to be specific because when explaining in general to colleagues, they will listen with mouth wide open until I tell them some examples of product brands I consume.
Mun’s Note: Many thanks to Zul who has spent much time coming out with this excellent experience sharing article. I am sure we all will learn something from him. If you would like to have your article being featured here, please let me know. Zul has also written another great guest post – How to Keep Fit While Pursuing Your Career Goals.
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