Reaching the end of my 90 day challenge, it’s almost as if a light has come on and finally, after my 34 years in existence (let’s say the last 14 being focused on trying to be and remain fit and healthy), I finally feel that I have all my points in place to live a healthy lifestyle and reap all the rewards of being an ideal weight, being able to fit in to a size 10, have more energy than ever and have skin that glows and looks younger than my said 34 years! Below are the most important points that have helped me shed weight and points that I know will help me remain a healthy weight and be fit and fabulous for years to come!
Besides the fact that your body needs water to stay hydrated, drinking water regularly (3 to 4 liters a day) will help with weight loss. Filling up on water before a meal helps encourage portion control and drinking lots of water will flush out your system, leaving you with healthy, glowing and younger looking skin. It has also be
en said that drinking cool water can speed up your metabolism. It also helps smooth out cellulite prone thighs (hand in hand with a healthy diet and exercise). What I like to do is upon waking in the morning, squeeze a little lemon juice into a glass of ice cold water and down it. Perfect way to replenish my body and wake up!
TRAIN EVERY DAY AND ADD WEIGHTS!
One thing I’ve learnt is that no matter how clean I’m eating, the weight loss speed will slow down dramatically if I’m not doing some type of activity every single day. On a daily basis (even on the bad days) I do some form of exercise whether it be a 30 minute brisk walk around the block during my lunch break or with Caleb in his stroller when I get home from work in the afternoons, followed by 3 sets of 20 lunges, 3 x 20 second planks, 3 x 20 pushups, whatever it may be! Lately, and now reaching the end of my challenge I have fallen in love with hitting the gym, usually early morning before work. My session will consist of a 20 minute HIIT run (high intensity alternated with light intensity – 90 second walk followed by a 2 minute all out sprint, and on it goes for 20 minutes) followed by a variety of circuit exercises in one of the studios using various weights. There are so many exercise plans to follow which you can find on the net or even Pinterest. I regularly do a little search to find a circuit plan consisting of 6 to 12 different exercises that I can do. It’s also good to change things up as often as possible. Your muscles have a memory and as soon as you feel yourself getting stronger at something and something becoming easier to do, it means that you need to change things up next time so that you can push yourself to the limit!
Most gyms also have regular classes to attend. I attend one at least 3 times a week to change things up a bit. Always using weights or your own body weight and you can push yourself as far as you feel your body can take you.
I also do a lot of road running. Something I’ve always loved and am good at. What’s your niche?! Find one!
I train 6 days a week. Something I haven’t done in about 10 years and I have more energy than ever to still have a full time job, think with a clear mind and then get home to look after a hubby and a one year old son. I live for exercise and my body craves it!
Bear this in mind: “not only does weight training prevent injury by strengthening the joints, but it also builds muscle (muscle burns fat) and revs up your metabolism, burning calories long after you’ve slipped off your trainers”.
DON’T OVEREAT HEALTHY FOODS
You will all know the recent Tim Noakes craze that hit South Africa. High Fat Low Carb. Yes, I fell prey to this plan (perhaps I was doing it wrong) and perhaps there are thousands of people out there who benefit from it, I however had not gotten my head around the portion control factor – i.e. everything in moderation). The thought of eating as much cheese, olive oil, butter, bacon as I liked completely stumped me and to me, a perfectly healthy salad for example would consist of the following:
Avo, Olives, Feta, Olive Oil
That’s just fat on top of fat and I love salad so would eat this amount of fat often! I also love nuts so I would eat handfuls of nuts thinking that it was ok because it was healthy! The fact is nuts, avocados, olive oil, cheese are all natural and healthy, but they offer high calories. I can safely say that I have learnt how much of these yummy treats I can actually eat without leaving me feeling bloated or aiding the number on my scale not to budge!
(Note: I’ve found a healthy alternative as a salad dressing instead of olive oil: fresh lemon juice, a table spoon of white wine vinegar, a table spoon of apple cider vinegar, parsley, oregano and a dash of Tabasco to spice it up – mix it all together and drizzle away)
GET AT LEAST 8 HOURS OF SLEEP A NIGHT
Simply put, your body needs lots of sleep to provide energy for your daily workouts but it also needs lots of sleep to assist in increasing your metabolism. Also, skimping on sleep increases your body’s stress hormone which makes you want to eat more!
Ever been on an all-nighter and then wanted to eat everything in sight the next day?!
LEARN TO SNACK EVERY 2 TO 2 1/2 HOURS TO AVOID BINGE EATING
How often have you done this: you either have a crazy busy day at work or rushing around over the weekend that you either forget or don’t get a chance to eat. By the time you stop and take a breather or get home from the office you are FAMISHED so you stand at the fridge or grocery cupboard and smash anything you can get your hands on in your face! If there is one thing I can take away from this challenge and strongly suggest to anyone who wants to listen is to not feel guilty about re-fueling your body every 2 to 2 1/2 hours … but only with the correct food! A Bar One or packet of crisps is not the right food! That is like peeing in your car’s petrol tank!
A typical day for me consists of the following:
7am: smoothie consisting of protein powder, half a frozen banana, a handful of frozen berries, 150mls soya milk, 100mls water and 5 ice blocks. I eat a Granny Smith apple on the side.
9am: 2 boiled eggs (no salt!), a fruit such as a pear, peach, nectarine, orange. I usually have a black coffee or green tea at this time too.
11h30: a lunchtime smoothie consisting of protein powder, sometimes the above breakfast items, sometimes just on its own with water and other times I like to make it a green smoothie and mix kale, celery, a Granny Smith Apple and a 1/4 avo into it.
14h00: veggie crudites (cucumber and carrot sticks) with low fat cottage cheese or hummus. Sometimes I will make mini crustless quiches and have two of those (egg, mixed veggies, low fat cottage cheese in muffin tins and baked in the oven). Other times I will have a tub of low fat yoghurt and a fruit and another favourite is plain Greek yoghurt topped with frozen berries and a tablespoon of flaxseeds, sunflower seeds and linseeds – great source of protein! There have been times where I have had half a tin of tuna mixed with broccoli, lemon juice, a teaspoon of olive oil and cayenne pepper and other times I’ve had half a tin of bakes beans. One of my guilty pleasures which I try my best to stay clear of because I tend to overeat them is a handful of unsalted nuts! The options are endless!
My stretch between my afternoon snack and dinner is quite long because I eat when my husband gets home from work around 18h30 / 19h00 so inbetween this snack and dinner, if I need to, I will have a tub of low fat yoghurt / half an apple with a small tablespoon sugar free, salt free peanut butter or a handful of lean biltong. It’s important for me to keep my body in the fat burning zone and if I feel myself getting hungry that’s a problem!
19h00: For dinner we always have a protein and veg. My protein will be the same size as the palm of my hand and is usually two small chicken breasts, a piece of fish, a piece of steak with the fat cut off, or lean mince (when I make spaghetti Bolognaise for the boys – sometimes I will make spaghetti using zucchini strips and then I eat too). Half my plate is always filled with veg, whether it be a salad (sans all the avo, olives, feta and olive oil) or steamed veg (I love broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, peas) or some roasted butternut or sweet potato (using very little olive oil and lots of fresh herbs and lemon juice.) I very often make a nice pot of veggie or chicken and corn soup and freeze the portions for easy go to dinners.
Remember to try your best to designate time for snacking and meals that’s set apart from other activities. When you know you’re going to have a busy day take boiled eggs, apples or protein bars with you so that you don’t end up starving yourself and remember your water! I always have a 1.5 liter of water with me in the car when I’m on the move.
Portion control is another huge factor for me. I have the potential to eat large portions! I never had a stop button and wouldn’t listen to my body when it was full. If something tasted good, I would finish the whole thing! If we went out for dinner I’d have wine, a starter and a main … on special occasions I’d dig into a desert too! That’s well over 2000 calories at one meal!! If we had a slab or box of chocolates in the house I wouldn’t ration myself to a block of chocolate or one Chuckle like I’ve heard so many people do, I would eat the whole slab, bag without a thought! In fact that is what I would often do – eat without thinking!
I’ve learnt to listen to my body. Meal time is now an occasion for me and the time where I am conscious of how I am fueling my body! All my meals are snack size (with my one main meal slightly larger than a snack) and I stop when I am full! It takes time to re-set your brain but once you’ve found that connection it becomes second fiddle!
(I HAVE SO MUCH MORE TO SAY ON THIS POINT – SUCH AS EATING SLOOOOOWLY – WHICH IS STILL AN ISSUE FOR ME BUT I TRY AND CUTTING YOUR FOOD INTO BITE SIZED PIECES BUT NOTICE HOW LONG MY FOOD RELATED SECTION IS IN THIS POST! IT’S BECAUSE IT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT PART TO WEIGHT LOSS AND I HAVE A LOT TO SAY ABOUT IT!)
A LIQUID DIET!! (the bane of my existence!)
Oooooooh golly. The social butterfly that I am. What is a lazy day around the pool without a glass (read: BOTTLE) of bubbly in hand? Or a family dinner or braai, without a glass or three of good red wine? Or a girls night out with your best mates, without 3 or 4 tequilas and Dry Lemons (my party drink)? From the time I was allowed to drink alcohol, I’ve been drinking alcohol. It’s fun, it relaxes you, it tastes good. What’s not to love? Well, the hangovers for one! It seems in my old age and after having Caleb that even one tequila will send me running for the “upchuck bucket” the next day. Does it stop me though? Noooo!
I have known through all my years of watching my weight and trying to lose weight that drinking alcohol jeopardizes your efforts and that if you have a great week of eating clean and training and lose 900 grams and then party over the weekend it will unravel all your hard work and you’ll start from square one on Monday … for years and years I have been on this yo-yo. When I fell pregnant with Caleb I obviously stopped drinking and within two weeks (even though I was pregnant), I had lost weight. People were commenting on how good I was looking and how skinny my arms were getting and that I didn’t even look pregnant from the back when I was already 7 months pregnant! I felt good, never had a headache and woke up feeling refreshed every day.
As soon as I had the chance to consume alcohol again when I was done breastfeeding, that’s what I did! In fact, on the day of my assessment for this challenge, I was hungover and feeling terrible!
I recently met with a dietitian and discussed the issue of alcohol with her. Without going in to too much detail, I will rather put this here (you make up your own mind)