A lot of people used to think there’s this magical solution to losing pounds in one night. Scratch that, a lot of people still do. And it certainly doesn’t help that you have shows like The Biggest Loser showcasing people losing 30 pounds in a week. If you think it’s going to be as easy as that then I have news for you boo boo.
Firstly, it’s never in a week. In actuality the filming process of an episode can take up to 3 weeks. Secondly, these people have signed up for working out 24/7. There is a reason why most contestants pack on the pounds again after the show, and that’s due to life. Staying healthy is all about fitting everything in moderation, and it’s difficult to maintain the weight they lost after they had just spent weeks working out and doing nothing else, like their desk jobs or picking up their kids from school.
A bit of background
Regardless of the fact that I was never more than a size UK 14 (or 16 top thanks to my heavy bust), being 5’3 I have always struggled with my weight. I never actually cared all that much about it until the age of 13, when my parents got annoyed that I ate some leftovers they wanted to eat. And it was downhill from there. My friends, and heck, even the classmates at school who had the tendency to mock me didn’t make it about my weight. It was only family. They constantly sent me jibes and comments about my eating and that I needed to lose weight because I was “embarrassing them”. Here’s the kicker, I stopped eating lunch at my school from year 8. My breakfast had consisted of a biscuit or two and half a cup of tea, and then I went 7, 8 and sometimes even 9 hours without eating or drinking. I got headaches, stomach-aches; I was constantly sluggish, depressed and stressed out of my mind. My parents seemed to have thought I was obese, saying things like “don’t get any bit bigger otherwise you’ll have to worry about loose skin”. Loose. Skin. At 133-143 pounds.
It’s hard to believe these words now, but this was back in the early to mid-noughties. The internet was only starting to grow with information, social media came into the form of Bebo, MSN chats, and MySpace, and YouTube was in the process of setting up. Information and education wasn’t as available to us as it is now. Healthy tips and recipes weren’t as accessible and fitnessblender certainly wasn’t around. So as far as my family was concerned, losing weight meant not eating. So they weren’t against my dangerous starvation mission. Looking back now I’m just grateful that I didn’t develop an eating disorder or, according to my friend, an ulcer.
When I was 17, I went to visit my mum’s sister in Australia. Bear in mind I had never met this woman in my life before and when we finally met, in similar fashion to all Asian cultures, she scrutinised me up and down and said (in Arabic), “Pretty, but a little bit fat.” I turn to my parents hoping they would stick up for me, but in turn, all I got from their reaction was “I told you so.” I went on the rest month and a half without eating much. I dropped a size, sure, but I couldn’t maintain it because when your body is in starvation mode, it holds on to every bit of food you eat. So really, you’re actually gaining weight by not eating.
To this day, they still think what they said all those years was okay and they never felt like they made mistakes. They also tend to have selective memory/hearing. So if I do remind them of those comments they would claim to have never said any of it, or that I was being dramatic by stating how emotionally and mentally crippled I became.
I may not be the size I want to be yet, but I’m healthier now. I exercise 4 days a week and I eat in moderation. But I continue to struggle with my body image. Years of those taunts have been ingrained into me permanently, and the only thing I could do is live with it every day.
Now to get on with why I created this post, I would like to offer my tips in losing weight and maintaining a healthier lifestyle. First thing’s first, the healthiest amount of weight to drop is 1-2 pounds a week. I recommend you find a calculator online that would take into account your current height, weight and activity levels. You can google a website or use an app. I’m using an app called 8fit.
Disclaimer: I am in no way a registered personal trainer or dietician. These tips are solely based from my personal experiences. If you have a current or past medical condition, or if you’re pregnant, please consult your doctor before starting anything.
You are lucky to be living today because the internet now offers endless pages and apps of healthy recipes from all walks of life. Whether you’re a meat-eater, a vegetarian or a vegan, you can find anything to work with; thousands of breakfast, lunch, dinner and smoothie recipes at your disposal.
- Vegetables and fruit: inevitable. Buy loads. But despite what fitness buffs tell you, it doesn’t always have to be fresh. We don’t all have the time to go shopping every day or have the money to keep up with that, so you go ahead and buy that frozen broccoli.
- It’s okay to live it up once in a while. You want that cake? You go eat it. Craving for a McDonald’s cheeseburger once a month? You go buy it! Just as long as you’re not doing it every day and you’re balancing it with your lifestyle. Say it with me: mo-de-ra-tion.
- But just so you know, when you start living healthy you’re going to be craving the junk food less and less.
- Avoid fizzy drinks. You think you can’t live without your Tango or Sprite, but in truth after three weeks you find yourself completely forgetting about them. And yes that includes diet coke.
- I constantly used to forget to have water, so I compromised by taking it in a form of different flavoured teas (NO SUGAR!) and also taking it with food.
- For breakfast, I have a mug of green tea in the morning (with my oatmeal and banana).
- For lunch, I have a cup of water before my meal as well as during my meal (this also helps to control portions).
- Then comes my favourite part of the day, which is my afternoon tea.
- And lastly for dinner I do the same thing with my lunch, which adds two more cups of water.
- This is excluding the water I drink during my workout. So altogether, I manage to fit in the recommended 6-8 cups of water a day.
- Buy plain/dark chocolate. I know it doesn’t taste as good as milk chocolate, but this is the chocolate that’s actually healthy for you. It doesn’t have the additives and sugar that leaves you craving for more. Keep it at the corner of your cupboard for “emergency cravings”. Ladies, you know what I’m on about.
- If you need to keep track of all you’re eating, keep a food diary beside you. Or if you just looked at me and said, it’s 2016! Who writes on paper anymore?? Then by all means, sign up for MyFitnessPal.
- Make sure to schedule your eating. Your body will thank you for it in the morning before work!
I can already hear the cyber groans. Guys, going to your workout doesn’t have to feel like you’re attending your own funeral.
For me, I started with a routine workout, using this particular piece of torture. Yes, ultimately it was Jillian Michaels who whipped my ass into shape. No, I absolutely did not get through it all the first time. That was not the point if you were out of shape. What I did was get though as much as I could’ve, which was 16 minutes, and then add 5 minutes more every week until I was able to do it all.
If you don’t have the time, money or confidence to be at a gym, start at home. Start to get into the groove of moving around. This can be done in many ways:
- But first, ALWAYS REMEMBER TO WARM UP AND COOL DOWN. I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH.
- If you used to do an activity you enjoyed at school, for example Tennis, go back to playing it. That way it won’t feel as much of a drag.
- Go dancing. Or look up dancing workouts. They’re fortunes of joy, trust me. Find some Keaira Lashae videos and definitely checkout The Fitness Marshall.
- Go walking. Find the most comfortable shoes you have and have a walk in the park. You can even listen to some music. Remember to pace yourself.
- If you’re doing a routine workout, remember to switch it every 6-8 weeks. By that point your body had gotten used to it and you won’t lose as many calories. But I didn’t know that at the time, so like a complete nutsack I continued to do this Jillian Michaels workout for a whole fucking year.
- Check out fitnessblender. Kelli and Daniel are our fitness godsends. Their YouTube channel and website offer a range of many different workouts for your arms, legs, abs, shoulders, anything, regardless if you have equipment or not. And it’s. All. Free. No excuses!
- Make a playlist of kickass songs like Sia’s Unstoppable. It will get you going like nothing else.
- The other exercise I’d like to point out is running. I know, I used to hate it too. Seriously ask anyone who knows me. But now I love it because I taught my body how to endure it. The topic of running requires another post so I’ll get to it when I have the chance. (Post-Edit: It’s been written and uploaded here).
Finally I’m going to leave you with these last minute tips:
- Have patience. Do not stray off and try to lose several pounds in one go or gain as much muscle as you can in a short span of time. This isn’t a competition. This is your life.
- Don’t feel bad if you don’t look as “toned” or “muscular” as those fitness buffs. You’re not a paid athlete or trainer whose job it is to be eating crazy amount of food to fuel their 3-hour exercise.
- Don’t worry so much about the scale. Once you start working out you’ll be gaining some muscle, which the scale won’t be able to differentiate. And it’s heavier than fat too. That’s another thing weight-loss programmes fail to include.
So that’s all I can offer for now. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave some below.
Remember everyone, stay healthy, stay happy and look after yourselves.
Till next time,
Sahar is in progress.