Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Diet 101: Ale's guide to healthy living
Hi, I think people around me will already know that I have been trying to lose weight (re: one of my wishes for 2009)! Today is halfway through week 4, and I have shed around 4-5 kgs of weight (hopefully FAT), my clothes are looser (wearing my belt 1 hole 'in'), my tummy flatter, and I definitely feel "lighter" during my runs. I'm not being snooty here, after all I'm only halfway there and I bet you... the latter half of the "diet" is the hardest part! In fact, I'm trying to share some ins and outs of my dieting. Will try to keep it as short as possible...
S = D x (T + N + R)
S is the success that you will achieve, D is the determination that you have to achieve success, T is the training (re: exercise!!!) that you use, N is your nutritional programme, and R stands for rest and recovery. This is the basic principle of bodybuilding, and basically... have you ever seen a fat bodybuilder? So this basic principle applies to everyone, not limited to Schwarzenegger-wannabes.
So to begin with, how strong is your intention to lose weight? Be realistic. Write down how much weight you want to lose and over what period of time. I want to lose 8-10 kgs and get that bikini body all girls dream of for the summer.
Now let's get down to the exercise. This depends on your base fitness levels. Head down to your local gym and have a word with the trainers there, most gym can create a personalised fitness programme for you free of charge. Some say that if you have programmes, then you are 50% more likely to achieve your goal. Make sense! So stop wandering around in the gym, hopping from one equipment to the next one. Have a goal, and remember the R in the equation: rest and recovery. There is no point exercising all muscle groups every single day of the week. It will actually be detrimental to your body!
This is my exercise programme: run for around 30 minutes (I am using a separate interval training programme I downloaded from iTunes that take me to running 5K, 8K, and 10K), weights for 30-45 minutes, then step machine for final fat burning phase+toning the gluts. I have 3 programmes for weights, so I have to go 3 times a week or otherwise I won't exercise all muscle groups: first one is the chest, shoulder, and triceps, second is the legs, and third is the back, posterior deltoids, and biceps. By doing this, each muscle groups would have 1 week of rest, it also gives me more time to fully work out those muscle groups each time I train. Don't do anything half-heartedly!
And finally..... we come to the last, and possibly most important factor of all: Nutrition.
And I have to emphasise again, determination. Everyone has specific goals, what are yours? Why are you doing it? There is no point if it's because someone is making you do it. You'll probably do a good 1-2 weeks max and then have a binge at the weekends. It's fruitless. Having a trusted friend that can motivate and keep you on the right track is important, because you will reach the point when you feel like you want to give up (it's impossible to do/you feel you've done enough and it's not worth all the trouble), having someone who can remind you on your initial goals, why you want to do this afterall.
So yes, you are very determined, then what do you need to do next? Well, Epicurious has done a very nice summary of all the popular diets around, what they actually mean, what food you must cross out from your list, and who it's particularly good for. My personal opinion is that, during your "dieting" period you need to stick to a fairly strict diet, if it calls for low-carbs then make sure it is low-carbs. Avoid pasta/rice/starchy food and sugary products especially at night time (this also goes for fruits as they contain simple sugars, I try to have all my fruit intake for the day before 6pm). Once you have reached your goal, then you can be more relaxed and switch to a "maintenance" diet (Mediterranean diet, anyone?). Why? Because I think in the beginning it helps if you can see and feel the difference, so you need to shed those pounds quickly, then try to maintain a more steady approach and make sure you continue losing weight, although more slowly.
On a typical day I would have: Weetos cereal (wholemeal, lots of fiber, I use a measuring cup to control the amount I eat) with skimmed milk for breakfast, a pasta salad/couscous salad/(focaccia!) sandwich and a pot of Muller's light yogurt for lunch, some fruits (oranges, strawberries, blueberries) for afternoon post-work nibbles, and for dinner it'll be fish/chicken/lean meat that is baked/steamed/poached/grilled with roasted vegetables/salads. Avoid using oil in cooking (yes, we can!), avoid fatty meats (pork, lamb, duck), avoid added sugar and processed food.
Ok, that's it for now! Good luck!