Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Weight-Loss Tips for Beginners Part 1: Eating Habits

I'm writing this blog post to revive my sad excuse for a blog, which I will be updating more frequently (or so I always say) in hopes of maximizing the amount that I paid for my domain.  Also because I resolved to make a fitness blog, which has really taken me ages to start on—but only because I wasn’t so confident of making one in the past.

I decided to make this entry on the first day of the new year itself to jump start on blogging and for me not to procrastinate any further. My new mantra this 2014 will be “NO DAY BUT TODAY,” and I’m applying this in all aspects of my life, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT COMES TO FITNESS. And really, I encourage all of you who want to pursue a healthier lifestyle to do the same so that you won’t keep putting it off until the next year (or the next, and so on)!

As my first fitness-related post in this blog, here’s what I would like to talk about:

I know a lot of friends and acquaintances are very curious as to how I’ve lost all my weight, and for now, I’d like to tone down my own narcissism and put off writing any overly emotional anecdotes (because really, I don’t know how many people would like to start the new year reading my life story). So instead of writing about my personal weight-loss journey, I’ll start by giving you guys some tips on how you yourselves can lose weight!

Of course, I’ve been at that point where I wanted to lose weight and failed several times, and eventually became successful at it. Hence, I’d like to share with you guys what I know so you guys won’t waste as much time as I did doing trial-and-error experiments on my body and routine. I don’t claim to be an expert, but I do have experience to give you guys some effective tips on how to shed those pounds and eventually feel good about yourselves.

I’ve decided to split this post into two because as you may or may not know, there are two important components to weight loss: EATING HABITS AND EXERCISE. I’m going to start with the tips that involve food, and as you read this post, you’ll know why I decided to start with it. Since it’s the New Year, though, I decided to throw in two most important tips that are related to neither of those two, and they’re actually the first two on the list.


1.)   Don't start a weight loss program with anyone else but yourself in mind. You want to lose weight because your crush called you fat and overconfident (because you still liked wearing miniskirts back in college, even with ginormous thighs)? Yeah, been there, done that, and sooner or later you will realize the fact that you do not need to prove yourself to a guy like that nor is it worth having a crush on him in the first place (why yes, I’m obviously speaking from personal experience!). Now, it may not be a crush you’re trying to lose weight for—it might be for a contest, a relative, whatever—but regardless, I’m telling you now:

If you’re not going to do it for yourself, you are going to HATE the process of weight loss and IT IS NOT GOING TO BE WORTH IT because YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO SUSTAIN IT.

Take it from someone whose name has been synonymous to “fat” all her life. I’ve been prejudiced upon to the point that I would feel compelled to go on numerous diets, only for me to fail later on and gain back more weight than I’ve lost. Why? Because during those times that I tried to lose weight, I didn’t do it for myself. I went on diets because I wanted guys to notice me, for teachers to stop correlating my intelligence with my weight (yeah, sure, because being fat means I’m a lazy and dumb person, right? Psshh!), and so on and so forth. I went on several weight loss programs, consulted many professionals and spent a lot of money only for my efforts to be futile in the end because no sufficient results surfaced. I didn’t achieve results primarily because my heart wasn’t into it, I felt pressured, and more importantly, I didn’t love myself enough to make myself my own reason to lose weight.

For now, I’m going to skip the pep talk on self-confidence and appreciation, but just think: are you willing to go to the gym at 6 a.m every single day for, say, a jerk who can’t overlook your gigantic lower extremities? Hello, going to the gym is already going to make you tired, what more having added pressure from some dude who thinks he has the right to criticize girls? That’s just plain tiresome! (To the guys reading this post whose attitudes are similar to the guy I’ve mentioned, here’s my message for you: GET YOURSELF SOME ABS FIRST BEFORE YOU EVEN THINK OF CRITICIZING ANY GIRL FOR HER WEIGHT, YOU ARROGANT DUNDERHEAD)
Which would then lead me to my next point, which is

2.)   It’s all about consistency. See, the hardest part about a weight loss program isn’t so much starting it as it is sustaining it. Yeah, okay, so you’ve lost like 10lbs. of fat mass in a week with your 2-4-6-8 diet (folks, don't even think of doing this diet, like seriously), BUT WHAT MAKES YOU THINK THAT YOU’RE NOT GOING TO GAIN IT ALL BACK ONCE YOU EAT NORMALLY AGAIN? Same goes for an exercise routine you’ve recently started. If you’re used to exercising a lot and eating a certain amount of food relative to the amount of exercise that you do, you’re eventually going to gain fat mass if you stop exercising and you maintain the same eating habits because your body won’t be able to burn that many calories anymore once you stop doing any physical activity.  So if you’re going on a weight-loss program, make sure it’s something you can sustain, regardless of the time period entailed.

3.)   It’s 80% diet, and 20% workout. Yeah, I know you probably jogged on the treadmill for 30 minutes this morning, but unless you burned 550kcal with that run, you have no right to eat that Big Mac (actually, you don’t have any right to eat that Big Mac because you’re on a weight-loss program, RIGHT?). See, for weight loss to occur, Calories Burned>Calories Consumed, and it’s the reverse when one wants to bulk up. So if you keep eating junk even while regularly exercising, you will not lose much weight since you’re probably just consuming back what you’ve burned in your workout.

4.)   It’s all about having a balanced diet. Throughout the years, I’ve tried several “fad” diets that have made me lose weight for some time, yet have made the relapse post-diet much worse. Why? Because if there’s anything that’s common about these diets, it’s the fact that they lack one thing: sustainability (which is related to Tip #2). Do you really think you can go on with life without eating carbs, nor do you actually believe that you can eat less than 1000kcal for the rest of your life? I don’t think so, which is why I myself am a follower of IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros), and I’ll talk more about this type of “diet” (which isn’t really a diet—at least, not for me) in another post. What’s important is that you get food from all food groups (protein, carbohydrates, and fats) into your system, and that these food are “clean” (i.e unprocessed).

5.)   Don’t even think of taking any supplements. And when I say supplements, I mean diet pills, teas or whatever artificial substance that claims to make you lose weight fast without any exercise and proper diet. What, you think there’s a “magic pill” for weight loss? Nothing good ever comes in an instant, so get off your couch, ditch that bag of potato chips and get yourself a gym membership instead of spending your money on some pills you’ve seen on those weird home channel things (or those teas that make you poop for hours on end).

As for other types of “legit” supplements like whey protein, branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), casein, fish oil, etc., I don’t really think they’re needed for people who are new to losing weight, since it’s important to first build up on the habit of choosing more natural sources of nutrients rather than being dependent on more complex substances. Hence, I say just stick to eating enough veggies, meat/seafood, and fruits.

6.)   Water is your best friend. I personally don’t believe in having energy drinks during a workout, since they just add on to the calories I wish to burn in the first place. If you’re doing a morning workout and aren’t used to working out fasted, you can do with an energy drink—or better yet, coconut water (my fave!) and/or a small snack (like a fruit or granola bar). Besides energy drinks, I suggest you ditch the alcohol, carbonated drinks and sweetened juices, and to minimally drink fresh fruit juices as well (because fruit still contains sugar and calories, mind you). If you want to feel like you’re drinking juice, try having some fruit-infused water instead where you leave fruit in your water overnight (I like using either lemon, orange or strawberry in mine).

7.)   Writing down your food intake is much more helpful than you think. It’s very easy to take in more calories than you should when you don’t remember what you’ve already eaten, and you just end up binging, not realizing the amount of calories you’ve already consumed. The best solution for this is to write down what you’ve eaten for the day, from the very moment you wake up until the time that you decide to go to bed. It’s tedious, I know, but trust me when I say that it’s going to help you. I personally don’t keep a journal, but I do use MyFitnessPal which helps me keep track of all my calories.

8.)   Plan, cook and pack your meals ahead of time. I find that not only is this economical, but it’s also very effective in resisting all forms of temptation and making excuses for yourself to buy something fattening. Ever heard of the phrase “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail?” Yup, the same goes for dieting. If you plan your meals at least the day before, then you’ll have more control over what you’re going to eat for the next day and the portion size as well, and you won’t have any more excuses to buy that 2-piece chicken meal from KFC. Plus, you know what’s going in that tummy of yours, so you’ll feel less guilty after eating. Because really, folks, eating itself is not the enemy—it’s eating processed and sugar-laden foods that is.

9.)   Never skip meals, ESPECIALLY BREAKFAST. I LOVE to eat, and skipping meals is honestly something I hate. Skipping meals involuntarily (like when I have an appointment that’s suddenly extended) makes me very grumpy, and it causes me to eat more than I normally would during the next meal. Now, I know there are a lot of people out there who are very busy and are always on-the-go that they tend to miss breakfast, but newsflash, people: skipping breakfast can increase the probability of weight gain.

Now, before I start explaining that claim of mine, there will be some smart aleck dieters out there who’ll throw in words such as fasting and carb backloading and whatnot. A friend of mine, for example, keeps trying to advocate this fasting method and carb backloading which is both a combination of eating my first meal in the afternoon and eating all my carbs at night. I have not thoroughly looked into the science behind that nor do I really intend on trying it out without fully understanding it myself (plus, I’m happy with IIFYM and flexible dieting!), but from what I’ve found out so far, only the timing of the meals change and not the actual number of meals. So in other words, you’re not really skipping any meals in this type of diet (much less breakfast), but you’re only moving your first meal to the latter part of the day and thus changing your eating schedule.

Going back to the skipping breakfast issue, I’ve read and I also personally believe that skipping breakfast can increase one’s propensity to gain weight simply because the science behind it goes like this:

Our bodies burn calories when we sleep, i.e whatever we’ve eaten the night beforeàwe wake up on an empty stomach, thus becoming hungry and in need of energyàno breakfast, extended period of hungeràwe’re very hungry by the time lunch comes and we eat more.

Understand? Now, on to my next point, which is

10.)  Small, frequent meals is the way to go. Personally, I eat about 4-5 meals per day every 2-3 hours. My boyfriend isn’t a fan of snacking and would prefer that I eat only 3 big meals, but I usually feel bloated when I do that and I hate it. When I was at the height of my weight loss, I would snack every 2-3 hours, eating either a hardboiled egg, some yogurt, or drinking a carton of soy milk. I find that this keeps me less hungry and prevents me from overeating during my next meal. Plus, eating small, frequent meals boosts up one’s metabolism, too, which aids in overall fat loss.

So guys, there goes part 1. I'd like to talk about eating habits, food, and nutrition, but I'll save
that for future posts because there's a LOT of subtopics to cover under that particular field of
fitness and healthy-living in general. Though I hope you guys can pick up a thing or two about
what I've just posted, and feel free to ask me any questions if you do have any, 

Thanks for reading, and I hope you all have a happy new year! 

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