Happy New Year and welcome to the resolution: I must lose weight in 2016 by fire, by force.
I have been inundated on twitter, facebook and on the rare occasions I’ve been on instagram, there too. with #fitfam photos of healthy food and people in gym clothes.
Sadly, it won’t last. I give you two months, three at most and you’ll be back to your normal ‘abeg to lose weight is not by force’ self. Truly it’s not. But being healthy is.
I’ve seen the starvation diets. You go from eating three hefty meals to eating grass for breakfast, an apple for lunch and water for dinner. Then you use the gym for two hours every day.
The weight loss is going to happen, at first. You’re basically not giving your body carbohydrates and you’ve cut out the fatty foods. Add the physical exercise and you’re using up more calories than you’re taking in, your body has to take energy from somewhere so fat stores begin to deplete and the pointer on your bathroom scale begins to swing the other way.
Meanwhile you’re eyeing Oluchi every time she brings out her lunch of rice and dodo and chicken to eat at the office and crying yourself to sleep because you’re so hungry.
You’ll survive for the two to three months it takes to lose a remarkable amount of weight, say 10kg, you’ll start fitting into your swanky clothes again, say Thank God, throw your hands up in praise and ditch the diet. And in one week you’ll gain back the weight you just lost.
What happens is this. As soon as you start eating ‘normally’ your body is going to think, ‘let me store up fat o, who knows when I’ll see food again’ and bam! Depending on your body type, it can choose one of several places to store the fat, with the tummy being a very popular choice.
I’ve never been on a diet in my life, always had a high metabolism. I gain weight; my body finds a way to shed it. I was 50kg/60kg for many years. All that ended last year when I ballooned to 70kg and my tummy became a four month pregnancy. I knew I had to do something so I started to research.
I love food, I like to eat. If it’s not sweet, I won’t touch it. No matter how healthy garden eggs are, I’m not eating them (unless they’re drowned in groundnut sauce) and so on. I read a lot of blogs, learnt about calories and a lot of other things; spoke to friends who know about healthy eating habits and took a lot of notes. I found out five things
- My body needs every class of food.
2. Eating healthy trumps weight loss. A good diet should be sustainable and will lead to weight loss eventually (if that’s the goal).
3. One size does not fit all.
4. I don’t have to sacrifice every food I love.
5. Exercise is key.
From the things I found out I was able to make the following changes
- I replaced certain foods: white rice and bread gave way to yam and sweet potatoes. Golden morn gave way to Quaker oats. Egusi soup gave way to Okro soup, red meat was replaced with turkey and fish, and garri with elubo (I hear there isn’t much difference but the energy it takes to make amala must count for something), etc. I made sure I used substitutes I liked so I wouldn’t begin to have cravings.
2. I reduced my portions. Where I’d normally eat four slices of yam and two fried eggs, I made it two slices and vegetables (usually green with plenty onions and pepper).
3. I drink plenty of water, 3litres daily at last check. I also stopped drinking water during meals, that way I chew my food properly (normally I’d use water to push the half chewed food down).
4. I reduced the palm oil I used in my cooking and stopped frying foods. My stews are steamed, I’m still trying to figure out a way to get dodo (all the methods I’ve seen involve an oven which I don’t have).
5. I snack on fruits and nuts: apples, groundnut, hausa groundnut, dates.
6. I skip every day and run twice a week.
The beauty of this regimen is that I can see myself following it for a long time to come. It’s almost painless and I can see the results already even though it’s only been four weeks.
So, if you want to stay fit and healthy, find what works for you and don’t let the eating anything-but-grass-will-kill-you team steal you shine.