Losing weight is not about vanity (plus some helpful DIY tips)

Disclaimer: This topic is based on my personal experience. I am not a nutritionist/dietitian. If you are serious about losing weight, it is best that you consult your doctor or fitness expert because of our differing nutritional requirements. These are the ones that worked for me. Whatever manner you choose to lose weight, remember that losing weight should never be a vanity issue. Love your body more than anything.

Eight years ago, my body mass index* was bordering on chunkiness. Okay, fat to be blunt about it. I blogged not being able to achieve size 0 or 2 ever in my life. I love food. When I’m stressed at work, I delight myself with calorie-laden cakes, pastries and other what-have-you’s. I was never conscious of what I eat. I work hard so I have to fuel the machine, that was my mantra. I dread summer. Tank top is not in my dictionary. At least I’m fashionable, that’s how I motivated myself.

Then I started to feel joint pains. Haunted with migraine. Harassed by acne. Self esteem at level 1.5. Boom! Self-pity kicked in. Then I became a gym pseudo-enthusiast. Boxing, tae-bo, cardiofunk, belly dance, yoga, hiphop, name it I have probably tried it. After six- diet, no carb, low fat. Sadly, nothing worked. I lost two pounds and gained twice as much. So I went back to my old mantra- Eat and be merry like there’s no tomorrow.

Fast forward to 2006. My job led me to work in a healthcare setting where I did some advocacy campaigns promoting kidney disease awareness. Believe me, this job opened my eyes to be serious about my health. Talking to patients first hand is such an enriching experience. So what’s the point?

Statistically speaking, obese people, with BMI (body mass index) of 30 or greater, are prone to diabetes, hypertension, cancer, stroke, heart problems, etc. About seventy percent of cases of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), a progressive disease requiring lifelong dialysis or transplant, is caused by diabetes and hypertension. 1 in 9 Americans suffer from CKD, a silent killer unknown to many. Now the point is, CKD, hypertension, diabetes, to name a few, are lifestyle-related diseases. While genetics may play a role, there is so much we can do to prevent or manage its progression.

But I love food, how can I ever be healthy without depriving myself? It has always been a hit and miss thing for me. Then I realized that the missing link was sheer discipline. I was a slave to all things gustatory. I ate more and sweat less. 

It was a long and bumpy journey, but so far I won the battle against the bulge. This time I did not spend a fortune, neither broke a leg with crazy gym routines nor engage in another fancy yo-yo diet. I committed to DIY! Do-It-Yourself. Discipline-It-Yourself. If we want to live long enough for our loved ones, we need to do it now. No if’s and but’s. Health is the best gift we can give ourselves, don’t you agree? Here are fat-busting tricks that worked for me through the years:

1. Calorie-counting. Call it insane but knowledge is power. You need to know what you are eating to fuel your body. If you are serious about losing weight, experts recommend at least 1,500 calories a day for women or 1,800 calories/day to maintain your weight. Again, consult your doctor or nutritionist if you have special needs and/or requirements. One cup of rice is 250 calories, a slice of pizza is 375 calories, a small frappe from McDonalds is about 400 calories. 4 strips of bacon  is 320 calories. Add bagel, you consumed over 500 calories for breakfast. Surprisingly, I don’t diet at all. I eat what everyone else eats. But everything in moderation. I count my calorie intake to plan my next meal. Knowledge is power. Power over food is discipline. Discipline-it-yourself. DIY.

2. Move, stay active. Diet alone is ineffective to bust that belly fat. ‘Been there, done that. Common sense, food is a basic need, you cannot starve yourself to death. Why ride the elevator if your office is one floor up? Skip the elevator, take the stairs. “If your dog is fat, you are not getting enough exercise”, a dog calendar once said. Take your furry baby out for a walk/run, it’s a fun way to bond and burn calories. De-clutter your space, mop the floor, wash windows. Yes, you burn over 100 calories in an hour by simply doing household chores. Take control of your body and mind. Control is discipline. Discipline-It-Yourself. DIY.

3. Exercise if you must. Zumba, bellydance, yoga, aerobics, cycling, treadmill, whatever it is, discover your interest. Unleash the fitness amazon in you. I dance like the world is my center stage.  I start my exercise routine dancing to Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal and Billy Jean- all in the comfort of my living room. Yay, I just burned 130 calories in 15 minutes. Exercise is a commitment. Commitment is discipline. Discipline-It-Yourself. DIY.

4. Eat smart. Do you always need to have a slice of cake every meal? Munch a full size of snickers each breaktime? Do you know that by simply reducing your caloric intake by 500 a day (yes, that slice of cake or ice cream you are enjoying right now) you lose one pound a week? Why feast on a whole bar of chocolate if you can satisfy your sweet tooth with a bite size? Fast food and drive thru’s are like manna from heaven to people who don’t have the time to cook. But they all drag you to fatville faster than a speeding bullet. Eating smart entails wise choices. Choosing wisely requires self-discipline. Discipline-It-Yourself. DIY.

5. Chart your progress. Document. Share your experience. I find it self-liberating when you monitor your progress. What is your weight goal? What motivates you to lose the extra pounds? How do you want to maintain it? Share your thoughts to people around you, especially to your loved ones. Your success can be an inspiration to many. Most weight bloggers say they remain committed to their healthy lifestyle choices by sharing their personal experience to other people. Live by example. Walk the talk is discipline. Discipline-It-Yourself. DIY.

I am glad to have taken the route to healthy living. I commit myself to it like a marriage. There might be stumbling blocks along the way (such as days I am too lazy to use the exercise mat or too weak to resist that 4-cheese pizza) but knowing that I am doing these for my loved ones is reason enough to motivate me to be in tiptop shape.

* Body Mass Index calculates body fat based on height and weight.

Dog Mama chillaxin’ after a quick run with furry baby

Lose the winter baggage. Spring into action. Get ready for summer bod!
No take-out: My version of turkey teriyaki burger (all baked, plenty’o veggies, yum!)
Let the truth be told: I was even chunkier pre-2005.

Commitment is discipline. DIY!
 March 2011


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