The holiday effect – part 2

So I lost 4kgs while away on holiday for 10 days. On Tuesdays I had been weighing in at 95.2kg, and today I was 91.3kgs. Go figure.

Now I also happen to now I’ve come back considerably leaner as well – i.e. although some of the weight loss is unfortunately muscle, my waist is considerably smaller so I know I’ve lost a bunch of fat as well.

How is that possible?! Have to say, it has me a little puzzled, but I’ll have a stab as to the reasons:

1) I was sick for a couple of days early on. Food consumption dropped considerably for these two days (and I was ultra strict while sick, as insulin spiking hurts ones immune system).

2) My stomach may have shrunk slightly due to this reduction in food take over 2 days.

3) Although after my two day illness my food consumption was never strict apart from one 36 hour period, when I did eat bad food I never went bezerk, and tried to mitigate it by doing some sort of resistance training near in time to the eating of bad food. E.g., I generally only ate bad food one meal a day (dinner) and I would save the worst to days when I had hit the gym that afternoon (which to be honest wasn’t often – I had to make do with home workouts most of the time).

4) I was much more active overall – i.e. I wasn’t sitting in chair all day like I normally do during the week.

5) I did a lot of ad hoc exercises throughout most of the days. I.e. dropping down and doing a couple of sets of pressups, or a set or two of one legged lunges.

So perhaps in fact my metabolism – as it stands – would actually benefit from me not being quite so strict. At least for now perhaps.

So today (Wednesday) I allowed myself a bit of balsmic vinegar on my tuna salad at lunch, and – wait for it – a fruit crumble this evening! With cream of course to help keep it lower on the GI index.

So we’ll see how it goes. I’ve certainly got room to move (in terms of waistline) before I need to worry.

Oh, and the sunshine certainly helped in the confidence stakes – a tan does wonders to making one look leaner, it has to be said.

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Men’s Health – “Skinny Habits”, part 3

And lets continue:

Skinny Habit #5: Read diet and exercise tips

One Canadian study found that being exposed to nutrition and exercise advice led people to make smarter diet and lifestyle choices. To ensure you stay focused on maintaining a healthy weight, subscribe to a health-related magazine or frequent a nutrition-focused blog. Another simple way to eat great and still lose a ton of weight: Follow me right here on Twitter for the diet and fitness secrets I come across every day overseeing Men’s Health, Women’s Health and Prevention magazines

Yeah but not all advice out there is smart advice. For example, Men’s and Women’s Health and are mostly (from my experience of them so far) all pretty crap. Thank goodness you have this blog to keep you on the straight and narrow.

Skinny Habit #6: Eat breakfast

A study from the American Journal of Epidemiologyfound that people who skipped breakfast were 4.5 times more likely to be obese. They don’t call it the most important meal of the day for nothin’—eating a nutritious morning meal jumpstarts your metabolism and prevents you from overindulging throughout the day. For optimal weight-loss results, choose a breakfast dish with a healthy balance of protein and fiber, like eggs with fruit and whole-wheat toast.

Bingo! A piece of excellent advice, and a telling statistic. So many people think they are winning by skipping breakfast. But in fact they are fecking up (i.e. slowing down) their metabolism thereby putting ones body into fat storage mode for the rest of the day.

And yes, choose breakfast high in protein and fibre – such as eggs and SPINACH – not sugary fruit of carby bread/grains!

Men’s Health’s tip score so far: 1.75 out of 6.

Keep tuned for a review of the last 14 “tips”…

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The holiday effect

So I’ve been overseas on holiday for a week now. My strict dietry and gym regime has been discarded, but I have managed to keep to a good diet every 2nd day or so. And I’ve been doing home workouts every couple of days – managed to get to the gym for the first time yesterday. And even on my bad diet days, its usually only one meal (dinner) that I eat badly (quite badly some days, it has to be said).

For example, I started the day with 4 eggs, spinach and low carb bread (which I’ll will be writing a future post on – the bread has no grain products and is instead made primarily from coconut and eggs). I had tuna and spinach for lunch, and snacked on almonds, and a couple of whey protein isolate shakes. But this evening I had a couple of slices of pizza.

Keep in mind the part of the pizza guilt tripping me was the bread – that beautiful, doughy, delicious pizza base. Oh yeah, and the cheese which has plenty of lactose in it.

But for second dinner I was back into the chicken and spinach.

So I haven’t been my normal strict self. Give me a break – I’m on holiday.

I should be getting fat. But infact I’ve lost weight – down to 92.5, the lightest I’ve been in quite a while!

But don’t be decieved. I’ll have lost muscle (which weighs more than fat), and replaced some of it with fat. So although my weight is down, I certainly don’t look trimmer. But I’m not too worried – still a long way to go before I’m looking way out of shape. I think…

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Men’s Health – “Skinny Habits”, part 2

All right lets have a look at what else Men’s Health has for us with regards to staying or getting lean:

Skinny Habit #3: Eat a boring diet

Researchers at the University of Buffalo discovered that people whoa ate macaroni and cheese every day took in significantly fewer calories than those who ate the cheese-covered noodles only once a week. The reason: The novelty of new foods drives us to consume more, so by removing the novelty, we feel fuller, faster. I’m not suggesting you choose one meal and eat it every day for the rest of your life, but the more routines you establish, the more your belly will shrink. Start with lunch. If you find yourself scratching your head every day when the clock strikes noon, you’ll end up eating impulsively and taking in more calories. Instead, pick something healthy, like a soup-and-salad combo, and eat it every day. Or grab a book like Cook This, Not That! Easy 350-Calorie Meals and commit to making more dinners at home.

Look, this may be so. And for a GIRL (not a guy) who doesn’t care about losing muscle (although she should – generally speaking the less muscle anyone has the more out of shape one looks) it might be an ok piece of advice. Better than doing nothing maybe. But as I’ve stated over and over: its not how much you’re eating, its primarily WHAT you’re eating.

Certainly my diet during the week is incredibly boring. And if you are serious about getting trim,.your diet may well be quite boring (depending on how much time and effort you want to spend on meal preparation). But this is more a byproduct of getting trim, not the cause – once you cut out refined carbs you limit your options rather significantly.

Skinny Habit #4: Reward yourself

Once you’ve established a healthy routine, you need to establish a reward system. Think of those pioneers who traveled the Oregon Trail. It’s a trip known best for being rife with danger, but it was also rife with sluggish tedium. Early American settlers wouldn’t have completed the journey without the proverbial promise of milk and honey at the end, and neither will you stay the course of a repetitive diet without something more closely resembling literal milk and honey. A great way to stick to a low-calorie diet without breaking down into rebellious binge-mode is to reward yourself with a small dessert every day. Pick a food you love, and at the end of every day, reward yourself with a portion of about 200 calories. But remember—you only get the reward if you deserve it.

Idiots. Eat a desert (no matter how low in calories) at the end of the day, and you’ll have pretty much negated your trimming gains for the day by spiking your insulin levels (right before bed no less – the worst possible time) and thereby putting your body into full on fat storage mode (as opposed to fat burning mode).

Yes, reward yourself – a low carb diet 24/7 would drive me insane. But save your reward for one full cheat day. Blow out big all on one day a week (or two, if you can afford to), guilt free!

Hmmm so so far I’m giving Men’s Health’s tips a 0.5 or maybe 1 out of 4. Stay tuned for more analysis on the remaining 16 points. Can’t wait.

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Green tea

I’m having second thoughts about green tea. Infact, I’ve taken myself off it except for immediately before and after gym sessions.

Most people have heard that green tea is good for fat loss, and I bought into the hype – I believed it raised ones metabolism (I guess primarily due to the caffeine?) and that it had other properties that helped keep on lean.

This article appears to support that a property in green tea (other than the caffeine) helps to keep on trim. But don’t be missled – the article only suggests that green tea may help to prevent the breakdown and use of fat consumed. I’ve made it abundantly clear already on this blog that it is not the eating of fat that makes one fat, but rather the eating of refined carbs.

I was hoping that the article would provide proof that drinking green tea promotes the use of fat as energy. But it does nothing of the sort.

In fact I don’t want green tea inhibiting the processing the fat that I eat, as the fat I eat is a vital and nutritious part of my diet.

But more to the point, its been suggested to me that caffeine may infact induce insulin spikes, even though its not itself a carb. The theory is that the caffeine induces the liver to release stored glucose into the blood stream, and therefore raising insulin levels.

Although I need to research this more thoroughly, it makes sense from personal use. For a start caffeine gives one a pick-me-up and then the corresponding downer, as one would get if you ate some refined carbs.

So good bye caffeine – mostly. For now anyway – we’ll see what happens.

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I’m back

So I’m on holiday and its turning out to be a pretty hectic one. Gotta turn this silence on the blog around though.

I’m in NZ (having come from London where I live) and it has to be said: I think fatness is a bigger problem here (particularly noticeable among younger females) than in the UK. I was not expecting that, but there you go. I have hardly seen a slim girl in the 5 days I’ve been here.

On the flip side, it seems that loads of friends, family and acquaintances I have here have collectively lost lots of fat. Its pretty incredible actually – and it makes me happy.

As for me, I got sick for a couple of days so haven’t been to the gym and my diet hasn’t been picture perfect (although not terrible). So I’ve lost a bit of muscle and am not quite as trim. But its not too bad. Plus its been blindingly sunny these past few days – and the resulting tan goes a long way to making one look fitter. So I’m hoping that kinda balances things out.

Normal service to resume around about now.

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Being in shape is not an end goal – its a continuous process

So many people I know give the gym and diet thing a bash, achieve (or get closer to) their end goal, only to go back to their old ways after a couple of months or so and get fat again.

More often than not, I’m not surprised given the horrible starvation diets and endless boring cardio sessions they put themselves through.

But even among those who do listen to some of what I have to say – i.e. they change their diet to higher protein, lower carb and push weights more than they use the treadmill – it very often only lasts 2 or 3 months.

Just yesterday a good friend – who up until 2 months ago had made great gains by going to the gym (weight training) at least 3 times a week, and increasing his protein-compared-to-carb intake – told me that in a weeks time he was going to start back up again at the gym, and go hard for a couple of months. “Why two months?” I asked. “So I can look good again, you know get, get abs and fit again” he responded.

The poor guy then of course got the full blown half hour lecture from yours truely about how even if he did make some amazing gains in 2 months, he’d get to enjoy the results of them for perhaps, maybe, 1 week tops until things all started falling back into, well, I dunno, not into shape thats for sure. Unless he continued on with his “going hard at the gym and being good with his diet” for another month. And another month. And another month. Etc etc.

You get the idea. Having a fit body is a neverending process. There is no easy fix.

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