Category: Health

How I Lost And Maintained My Weight

One of the my most asked question is: how did I lose my weight? Sadly, there is really no secret; the secret is simply diet and exercise. I went from 170 to 180 lbs, throughout high school and college, to 150 to 155 lbs for the last six years. I’m 5’9” by the way.

The main focus is to eliminate refined sugars and exercising everyday. Eating healthy is important but not necessary eating the leanest cut of meats.

I must warn that my method is long term, requiring lots of patience. In fact, you might not see any results for months but the foundation is building up. Took three years before I slimmed down to my desired level of fitness. This is a mindset, a willpower, type of weight loss program.

Baby Steps
Firstly, I scaled back the soda intake. One or two per day. Slowly reducing the soda intake over a year. Same for sport drinks and candy bars. This can be a difficult task especially when your brain is so wired to carve the sugary beverages.

Start jogging around my neighborhood, there no need for expensive gym memberships. Started with an one mile and walked back every day. Threw in some push-up and negative pull-ups in the backyard. Chin-up and pull-pulls are great workout and indicator of overall fitness, in my opinion. You can use the local park’s monkey bars if you don’t have a pull-up bar at home.

Setbacks and Burnout
Be careful with your enthusiasm at the beginning. Over exercising or restricting your diet will only cause you to burn out or binge. The idea is to adopt the new lifestyle slowly so it becomes a part of you.

I have family members that tried Atkins Diet; only to regain the weight and more once they got tired of the diet. Also, you have to allow yourself to cheat once in awhile if you’re craving it, or else you will binge.

On the workout side, another tried the Insanity Workout with great results. Unfortunately, he never really built a foundation for a lifestyle change; he would end up burning out and regaining the weight after two months. To be fair to Insanity, waking up at 4 am to workout before work – he was self conscious – was not sustainable.

I have succumb to burnout. When I first started, I used to hit the gym everyday for 3 hours. In addition, I would drive across town to meet up with cousins. Frankly, this got old and tiresome. I soon started to make excuses not to go. It’s cold. It’s far. Too lazy to fill the gas tank.

Unless you have a background with exercise or diet restriction, I highly suggest going it easy and make continual changes as you go. From what I observed over the years, taking small steps then slowly ramping up is the best way to get use to change and adopt.

The Alternative Daily

Cutting Off Refined Sugar
After a year or so, I started to cut out soda completely. By this time, I really do not miss it. I cut off sugary sport drinks when exercising as studies show that they do not improve your performance any better than water, unless you’re a professional athlete.

I went another step further and restricted refined sugar in general. Currently, refined sugar is low in my diet. Water, tea, and coffee is all I really drink; no sugar or sweetener added. Honey is a good substitute, if I need to sweeten things. I still eat ice cream, pies, cookies, and other desserts sparely. Occasionally, indulge in a carving to avoid excessive binge eating – I enjoy a few donuts with black coffee once in awhile.

The initial meal plan was four small meals; breakfast, two “lunches”, and dinner. Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables were the staple. I prefer the full flavor of fatty meats, including skins, as I find lean cuts too plain and boring. Meats consist of about 25% of the plate. The other 75% are vegetables and some form of carbohydrates – like rice and potatoes.

In addition, I got use to eating at home. I make foods that are easy to prepare. Youtube can help if you don’t know where to start. For example, marinaded chicken thighs in a ziplock bag is a easy source of protein for days.

Breakfast was usually oatmeal – I used steel cut oats – with fruits and nuts to provide sweetness and texture. Lunches were usually natural peanut butter and honey/banana/avocado/nuts. I was back in college at this time so sandwiches were portable and cheap. Dinner is the biggest meal. For dessert, I ate fruits on most days. I do not eat chips and other processed snacks often; snacks were fruits and nuts.

These are my usually meals. You should always eat what you like every other day. Even, fried chicken can be a nice treat once a week. The main thing is that you’re eating relatively healthy with moderation most of the week. Boredom is a huge concern so change things up. Changing the fruit with my oatmeal daily makes a lot of difference. Finding something healthy and cheap that you can eat everyday will be a personal challenge, luckily you have time.

Metabolic Cooking

My initial workout routine was an one mile jog and one mile walk back home everyday. Yes, home. I stopped going to the gym. I did this because I wanted to create a mindset where exercise can be anywhere, not just the gym. Plus, there no more excuses not to exercise.

For three days a week, I did weight training at home using dumbbells, calisthenics, power bar, workout ball, and high bars in the backyard for chin-ups and pull-ups. You can read about my early workout routine in one of my earlier post. Don’t be afraid to try out moves and see what works for you.

The most important aspect is not skipping any days. Exercise a bit earlier or later to work around events of the day.

Ramp Up Exercise
After few months, you will see some results and performance. That one mile that you struggled with at the beginning will seem like a walk. At this time, you might want to increase the jog to two miles, no more walking back.

By this time, I settled into routine of five to six moves that target major muscle groups: biceps, abdominal, chest, leg, back, and triceps. Pull-ups and chin-ups are still the core of my workout. When I do go to the gym, I would do a mile on the treadmill before hitting the weights.

Eventually, I only jogged four days and weight trained the other three days in the week, since my weight training was getting more intense.

Final Words
I know the idea of working out everyday seems like a hassle but after years of doing it, you sort of get use to the idea. In fact, I feel strange if I don’t workout, even anxious. I even workout when I’m traveling or on vacation.

Again, this method requires a lot of patience and willpower. I can say that I kept my weight off for about six years now. Everyone is different, even you decide this is not for you, I hope that this gives you ideas to formulate a program that fits you as I was able to.

My Workout Plan – Exercise for Life

Exercise. The one word a lot of people dread. Exercise for many people is no difference than a second job. You actively have to set aside time to do repetitive tasks. Let’s face it, there are hundreds of other things you can be doing that are miles more fun, even if it’s good for you.

I, myself, struggled with exercise for a long time in the past. I would have periods of high motivation to get my chubby self to the gym and then periods of excessive excuses to stay home, losing all progress in the process. Too cold, too far, and no gas in the car were some of the excuses I made for myself.

The Plan:
After an event in my life, I decided to make changes and stop the excuses. The first change was a “no excuse” policy. Basically, there is no reason why I can’t not workout that day or any other day. Second change was the workout location from the gym to my home, or wherever I’m staying, which synergies with the first change. This change can be a bit challenging when you’re traveling or away from home. The third, and last, change was minimizing equipment needed and relying more than bodyweight exercises, or calisthenics.

I went from weighing 180 lbs to 155 lbs in 2 years. This is not a quick weight loss plan but a gradual change in lifestyle. The idea is to ingrain exercise into your daily routine with manageable workouts so you do not get burn out. This plan can be a bit hardcore for some as there’s no vacation days. You workout EVERYDAY but can be done in 20-35 minutes if you need be.

The Equipment:
Basic equipment like dumbbells, barbells, resistant bands, or loaded suitcase can be used. An exercise ball would be a useful piece of equipment to have. The only equipment you might not have readily available to you is a bar for pull-ups and chin-ups. There’s a few in the market that you can buy. You can even use a nearby park or playground.

Yes, I do keep my membership to a gym, which is 24 Hour Fitness – accessible nationwide. The gym is there for situations where going to the gym is more convenient or with friends. I have used the gym while on vacation or when I know I would not be home all day – plan ahead with a change of clothes for the shower afterwards.

The 3 Week Diet

The Workout:
As for workout, I do weight exercises on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. 6 exercises of 3 sets that covers all the major body parts, aiming for a total body workout. For the rest of the week – Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays – I jog for 2 miles around my neighborhood or 20 minutes on the stairs, like a friend’s apartment, if a route is not viable. For those starting to exercise, do 1 mile if you just started and 1 mile walking back. I started with 1 mile jogs as well.

The cardio days are seen as off days, or break days, as they will only take 20 minutes or so to complete.

Here’s what I do for weight training days – picking one move per group:

Three set of as much as you can do. If you can’t do one, do negative pull-ups/chin-ups. Negative pull-up/chin-up is where you start at the top and slowing lower yourself down slowly. The slower the better.

I feel this is one of the best moves to perform. I focus on this exercise mainly because of my high school experience of never being able to perform do one.

Push-ups (inclined or declined)
Exercise ball dumbbell presses

Squats (with or without weights) – if using weights, place them on our shoulders
Jumping squats
Globe squats

Planks (leveled, inclined, or declined)
Sit ups
Exercise ball pikes

Concentration curls (chair, bench, or exercise ball)
Hammer curls

Kettlebell swings
Dumbbell Clean Presses

This is just a few of the moves I do. You’re free to add your own or change the format depending on your equipment. Remember, the goal create a workout plan that YOU can do easily for years. You can always go intense for bulk but it’s nice to have a manageable workout plan when things gets busier.

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