Itís tough to be overweight in Vancouver. Health and
fitness is such a religion in Vancouver that we are constantly being
reminded of our extra weight, and getting unsolicited advice on how to shed
those pounds is almost a daily ritual.
Well, Iím a fairly typical Vancouverite, and hereís my two
In the past, I was blessed with a constitution that
allowed me to eat mountains of food with impunity. My metabolism would
somehow adjust and burn off the excess calories. Those were the days;
lately, the extra calories seem to stay and stick to the wrong places. The
favourite resting place of my excess calories, a.k.a. fat, is the
mid-section. Fortunately, Iíve always had a good awareness of what my body
is doing, and if my alarm bells donít go off, my dear wife, another adopted
Vancouverite, will considerately let me know when the bulge is showing.
Welcome to the real world?
So, how do you deal with the grabbable mound around the
waist that is getting more grabbable with each passing day? My
work-in-progress solution is to do two things: reduce my mountain sized
meals to hill sized portions, and to do more exercise. Losing weight is a
math game: if your input is less than your output, you lose weight. With a
two-pronged attack, you increase your chances of success. It also makes your
plan more doable and less painful: you donít have to cut back as much food,
and you only have to exercise moderately.
This is not a quick weight-loss solution. It is more a
lifestyle change that needs to be maintained for the rest of your life. So,
donít make it too painful on yourself Ė otherwise, you wonít be able to
sustain it for the long term. Make gradual gains. If you can lose even 2
kilograms in a year, imagine yourself 5 to 10 years from now!
Also, remember that muscle is heavier than fat. Donít be
discouraged by the weighing machine. You might already be burning off your
fat without seeing any change in your weight. Instead, check your muscle
tone and use the pinch test to gauge your progress. A very rough guide is to
take a pinch of various parts of your body with your thumb and forefinger.
If youíve got more than an inch in between, itís a good sign that you could
safely lose some weight. Remember to think long-term.
Can you lose weight from specific areas of your body? In
other words, can the abs of blubber be changed into abs of steel? Spot
reduction is usually not successful without an overall reduction in body
fat. Different people gain and lose fat in the body in different ways. For
some, the fat shows on the face first before moving down to the arms, waist,
bum, or legs. When they begin to lose weight, the loss might be most
noticeable in any of those places. In my case, doing sit-ups and abdominal
crunches resulted in a well-toned layer of muscle below my layer of
abdominal fat. In 6 to 12 months, if I maintain my current regimen, that
slowly diminishing layer of fat should be history.
Can I do it? Maintaining my diet and exercise routine is
not difficult. I still eat generous sized meals, but with my exercise, I
find myself with less time to eat. I try to get on the squash court at least
2 times a week Ė compared with my previous weekend warrior routine of one
game a week. I tend not to eat within 3 hours before my game, and Iím not in
a mood to eat a big meal very soon after a workout.
Combined with 90 minutes of on-court time, thatís more
than 4 hours of non-food time. Thatís roughly 500 less calories being
consumed on my game days, and the 90 minutes of intensive squash burns
around 800 calories. Combine them and I have a caloric reduction of around
1300 calories per game night. If you also factor in the sustained increase
in metabolic rate an hour or so after the game, thatís roughly half a pound
of fat lost per game night. (Fat is around 3500 calories per pound or 7500
calories per kilo.)
Some weeks I get less than my 2 days of squash, and some
days I spend less than an hour on the court. Thatís happening less now that
Iíve established a routine. Even so, I should be able to reliably count on
losing at least a kilogram of fat per month. I donít own a weighing machine
and I havenít weighed myself for more than a year, but I can feel the excess
baggage dissolving and, as a bonus, my heart and lungs are getting stronger.
Set backs are bound to happen. Donít get discouraged and
get back to the game plan as soon as possible. Christmas and other festive
days will take their toll. I had a big set back late last year when I went
back to Malaysia for a 2-week visit. It was an endless round of feasting
with no time or opportunity to exercise. I missed my routine, and I couldnít
wait to get back on it. If you plan an enjoyable routine, getting back to it
and maintaining the plan will not be a problem.
Set yourself realistic long-term goals, keep to the plan,
and donít let set-backs discourage you. Pretty soon, youíll be ex-overweight
in Vancouver. Think of the alternative Ė do you want to be extra-overweight
Although the main cause of obesity
is over-eating, you donít have to eat a lot to become fat. Some thin people
eat a lot more than people who might weigh twice as much. This apparent
contradiction is caused by the fact that many overweight people have
low metabolic rates. They do not burn a lot of energy and therefore
do not need a lot of food. They are either very efficient in their energy
usage, or they might be leading too sedentary a life.
The best way to lose weight is to lead a
more physically active lifestyle. Even walking around the block after lunch
or dinner would help. Using the stairs instead of the elevator and
walking to the grocery store instead of driving would also help you burn
some calories. To lose weight even more quickly, take up a sport or
hobby. Golf and tennis are good options. Hiking and climbing the
numerous mountains around the lower mainland would be even better. When
we get more active and burn more energy, we will see some weight loss.
What do you think the following words
mean? What helped you guess the meaning? Write their meanings in the blank
metabolic rate _____________________
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