Tuesday, 23 December 2014

How I Dropped Two Waist Sizes in a Few Months

How I Dropped Two Waist Sizes in a Few Months

The title sounds like those mainstream articles that are full of bull. But this is nothing but a real account based on direct experience.

When I left Egypt to Canada I started regaining my health after years of self-medication, poor diet, and an overall toxic lifestyle. I learned how to cook and it became my new hobby, which made me cook almost everyday. I was also drinking some wine with the food.

Naturally, during those three years I had gained some weight compared to my unhealthy days. But I was healthy and happy. By the time, I had already quit most junk food, sweets, and sodas. Though I would occasionally feast on some KFC or Burger King every couple of months. My neighbour Brent and I would jog twice a week and I was satisfied with my new lifestyle.

After a year in Canada, I was once paid one dollar to watch a video in a booth in the middle of Kensington Market. It was a gruesome four-minute footage on how animals are slaughtered. They later gave me a form to fill where they asked if after watching the video I will eat less meat. The options were everyday, 6, 5, to 0 times per week. For some reason I ticked 3.

This was some kind of a start because it got me thinking. Though I kept cooking and eating meat for a while afterwards. The thing was that I had just gotten into cooking and there was so much to explore. I was really enjoying the novelty so I kept doing it.

After Canada, I went back to Egypt for a visit where I was reminded by how most people eat too much. The food there is yummy, but it is also quite heavy.

Then I went to tour the U.S. I started in Illinois, then Chicago, Detroit, Denver, and finally ended in Los Angeles. During the trip, my eating and drinking habits were still the same. I was still eating meat maybe five times a week, having dinner relatively late ― say, by eight or nine ― and a few glasses of rosé wine. The jogging was also reduced to once every ten days on average due to being on the road.

Everything changed when I reached Los Angeles in March. I’m not exactly sure what happened, but I think being surrounded by health stores and conscious people have a lot to do with it. It’s like you feel it in the air. However, I would only get this contagious sensation when I was staying in Venice Beach and Santa Monica ― among the rest of the Westside. Whenever I would visit my aunt in the Valley, all the restaurants are full of relatively obese people, huge portions are served, and the menu is no different then the ones found in eateries all over the other states throughout America. 

Back to the beach, people are jogging and they look healthy and happy. Hm. This naturally and positively affected me and my well-being, so I decided to reside by the area. I shared homes with a few people and I got to see their eating habits. From raw sugar, kale, quinoa, Chia seeds, Himalayan salt, coconut water to whole wheat bread, almond milk and smoothies as meals, to less and less meat and wine. I was also using the bike everyday as means of transportation so this was a lot of movement.

On that same note, this is a recent article about how sugar is a mere drug ― it seriously is ― and how to quit it, Kicking That Sweet Habit.

The thing is, everything happened so gradually and effortlessly that I was surprised when my shorts started to get loose from the waist area. It actually wasn’t my intention at all. I was just eating healthier because it made me feel better. This was something which has never happened to me in my adult life ― to lose a size in waist. I had to go buy another two shorts with a smaller size.

Another couple of months of that same routine had passed, during which an average day would consists of eggs for breakfast; a nice salad (avocado and nuts), or 1 avocado and 1 or 2 bananas, or a Naked smoothie for brunch; and dinner by 7 or 8 max. If I happen to get hungry much later then yoghurt with honey and/or fruits. But usually, it is best not to eat anything at least three hours before going to bed.

Because there are places like Whole Foods and Lemonade in the area, it’s easy to go make yourself a box from their huge salad bar then go home and create something. I have already shared some new veggie kreations and you can find them Here and There. Also, there are a few places around that offer healthy, affordable food which helps a lot. You can find at least ten places in my piece: Countering Gentrification — Eating Cheap and Healthy in Venice Beach [With a List of Places].

Again, it’s in the overall vibe in these parts of Los Angeles.

Last month my jeans started to get really big too ― meaning a new hole in the belt wasn’t working anymore. Actually, the jeans started to dangle from the back because it keeps falling. I was somewhat in denial because I thought no way there would be more loss in size, so I let it go for a couple of weeks. Then one day, I’m putting on one of the new shorts and the belt is on the last hole as well. I must have worn one of the old ones, I thought to myself. I took it off and found it to be the new one with the size 34! What?

So now I’m stuck with most of my clothes that are two sizes larger than my today size. Note that after leaving Egypt, all of my clothes fit in two bags; one with me here, the other will be shipped soon from Chicago. I’m really not into buying clothes at all. As long as they fit, and they always did, I keep wearing them until they tear. But now they are not even fitting and it’s kind of uncomfortable too, so I guess I need to go visit a shop or two. Ugh.

Eventually, I was forced to go buy me three new shorts with 32 waist! You heard that right. Last time my size was 32 I was 16 years old. Then it remained 33 for maybe 10 years, before hitting 34 for another several years, then finally 36 when I got healthy and moved to Canada — daily cooking and wine. Now at 38 years of age I’m back to my mid-teens all over again. How invigorating.

Oh well, the above story isn’t exactly why I’m writing this. The thing I wanted to reflect upon is the reason why I had lost the waist size; why it was successful. I know weight loss remains a hot potato of a topic and I believe there is a lot of mumbo jumbo spread around it. From the miracle pill of Dr. Oz and the like, to the 10-day magical diet always advertised on the cover of People magazine, to I don’t know what culture will keep inventing and marketing.

From experience, I can tell you that most ‘diets’ don’t work. Simply, because in your head you’re doing something that you don’t really feel like doing; it has an end. That’s how you’re looking at it. Once the diet is over, people naturally go back to the same lifestyle, which means going back to how they were pre the diet.

Likewise, pills do not work. And if they will make you lose weight, it’s not the natural way to do it. Depraving yourself from sleep and food by doing ‘speed’ is not the way. There are lots of dire side effects to the use of pharmaceuticals, so this is not even a smart choice.

So what works then? Well, I’m no professional dietician but I can tell you why I think I had lost those sizes, which may work for you as it did with others.

First of all, I had zero obsession. I didn’t wake up every morning to weigh myself, or to look in the mirror, or to see how I have advanced ― or not ― with the new diet. I never thought about it. Simply, because for me this was no diet. This was a conscious decision to feed my body right. That’s all.

Second, meat. Growing up, we ate meat almost everyday. Yeah. And that was our normal. In the 80s and 90s, even until today in Egypt, if you can afford to eat meat then you will. It’s like a luxury that people may be even proud of. Apart from the occasional “too much meat means high cholesterol” from the family doctor, no health hazards or anything else was ever mentioned against it.

Once I stopped considering the meat as a necessity, I stopped eating it often. And I was fine. This reinforced my belief in that one can live without meat. Not that I’m ready to renounce it for ever and ever. I have sushi and the occasional piece of chicken or turkey every once and a while, with rarely any red meat. But at least I know now that the less I eat it, the better I feel. I sleep better, I wake better, I breathe better and I poop better. So it’s just a rational decision.

Third, it’s the wine. Not only does it add hundreds of calories to your diet, but alcohol temporarily keeps your body from burning fat. Drinking actually presses pause on your metabolism while shoving away the other calories to be broken down first. The result is that whatever you recently ate gets stored as fat. And fat head to the waistline, for some of us at least. This gave me a lot of room for water and juices. 

Fourth, it’s moving the ass. One must move daily, or at least a total of two to three hours per week to burn that excess fat. We always heard about adding sports to a healthy lifestyle because, in my opinion, dieting alone is not enough. Now that I run three to four times a week, exercise twice a week, and use the bike everyday to move around, I’m certain that was a significant contribution to the loss in size.

And finally, smaller portions. This was interesting: So I read somewhere that it takes about 20 minutes for the brain to register that our stomach is full. Considering how the body works in signals, this made sense. I looked it up and it is considered a truth. 

Knowing that, I started to quit eating before I’m full. 20 or 30 minutes later, I do feel full, but never “bloated” full like I used to feel after indulging.

That’s just a simple example how can we change things in our life by rethinking them. 
In fact, Neuroplasticity has demonstrated that the brain has an ability to change and adapt as a result of experience. Contrary to what was commonly believed before the 1960s, the brain never stops changing through learning. As such, master that mind and things will go easy from there.

It is of importance to note that 99 percent of the times being overweight is a choice. It is usually the result of improper diet and lack of exercise. Unless there is some kind of hormones imbalance — possibly also diabetes — we do have a choice to adopt a proper diet and to exercise regularly. Put simply, how much we weigh is determined by how much we eat in comparison to how much we burn. Despite the fact that many people tend to blame anything other than themselves — genetics, lifestyle, lack of time, environment, work, parents — being fat is largely your responsibility.  And it is summed up in this simple intake/burn equation.

You see, whatever happens to us in life is a reflection of our choices. Mindlessly putting the blame on anything or anyone other than yourself means you are disempowered. Simply because it implies that you have no control over your life or what’s happening in it. With that in mind, you will never take the necessary steps to actually do something about it, hence you’ll remain overweight.

Again, now my eating habits are more of the smart thing to do. I don’t crave the unhealthy food because I know it’s not good for me. That’s all. Once you quit and keep on going for a while you kind of forget about your past bad habits, sometimes you’ll even wonder how did you ever live this. Whether it’s this burger or those fries or that ice cream, they become distant memories as you replace them with healthier substitutes.

In summation, if you’re thinking about losing some weight I would say you need a total change in lifestyle. A healthy and permanent diet, some exercise, hydrate yourself with lots of water throughout the day, plus a good night sleep. No stress, no obsession, no worrying, and one day you’ll find that your clothes are getting fluffy and you’re feeling happy. For being healthy is not just about looking good, it’s mainly about feeling good. Make that change and don’t waste your waist. 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

No comments:

Post a Comment