Chris, a good friend of mine in his fifties, shared how he recently lost 7kg over a 12 weeks period, and achieved a target weight he enjoyed over 12 years earlier. Indeed, he looks fit, trim and strong. And he feels justifiably proud of himself. When I asked how he did it, his answer was straightforward:
No alcohol during the week;
1 hour of gym work each day;
No food that is white/beige – eg) bread/rice/pasta/sugar.
On weekends, he cut loose and did whatever….
This all sounds incredibly simple, with an impressive result nevertheless. But let’s explore this approach a little more closely.
Alcohol contains a deceptively large number of calories. 7 calories per gram in fact. This compares with protein and carbohydrates at 4 calories per gram, and fat, with a whopping 9 calories per gram. But more than that, it’s usually the extra nibbles, which are consumed with a glass of wine or over a beer, that do the damage. Additionally, as a source of fuel for the body, alcohol is rapidly and preferentially absorbed, leaving the accompanying meal to be stored as fat. So, it makes good sense to lay off the alcohol, at least during the week.
Exercise is crucial, but not sufficient by itself, to effect significant weight loss.
There are 3 forms of exercise: aerobic, stretch and resistance. However, going to a gym is not essential, and perhaps you would prefer to exercise outside. I say, go for it! Indeed, it’s better to do everyday activities and exercise your muscles in a composite way, rather than individually separate each muscle group for repetitions. This introduces the concept of wholeness. But just to put exercise into perspective, remember that if you eat just one fast food (no names mentioned!) takeaway chicken drumstick, you’ll have to run 5 kms to work off the calorie input that indulgence provides you!
The last strategy employed by Chris is perhaps the most controversial. There’s a lot said about the evils of white foods these days, particularly salt, sugar and white flour. While I don’t intend to explore the merits of each of these foods at this time, as a general rule, eating foods in a form that increases the fibre content will slow down the insulin stimulating effect. Insulin, secreted by the pancreas, assists glucose to move into cells but, among it’s many other effects, causes the body to store fat. But curiously, some 1.73 billion people in Asia consume white rice on a daily basis, but the vast majority of them are not overweight until they start to consume burgers, fries and thickshakes. Pasta, interestingly, enjoys a low glycemic index (the measure of how quickly blood glucose rises after eating a particular type of food) as a result of the way it’s made. The damage occurs when it’s garnished with Parmesan or any grated cheese!
Perhaps what helped Chris was the discipline he mustered for those 12 weeks. He set himself a target and he took action. And it was not too arduous, as he factored in some weekend relief, without restrictions. In this way, he was able to sustain his effort and not chuck it in when the going got tough. Additionally, he did it as part of a workplace health challenge, so there was group support as well.
Reflecting on these strategies, can you see yourself shooting for a similar health target? Imagine how proud of yourself you’ll feel when you attain your goal! And consider what else you’ll be able to tackle afterwards…. You’ll feel unstoppable!
In part two, I’ll explore some principles that will guide you as you set about planning your own health revolution.