6 months before my wedding:
On Wedding Day:
With a relatively rigorous exercise routine, I managed to lose 8 kg within 3 months and sustained the weight for another 3 months before actual wedding day. How did I do it? Here are my 3 tips to safe, effective weight loss.
Some "experts" make weight loss sound deceptively simple. To lose weight, all you have to do is to burn more calories than you eat. If you are anxious to lose weight, just exercise as much as you can and eat as little... right? WRONG! When you suddenly reduce your caloric intake significantly while increasing your calorie output, your body will go into starvation mode. What this means is your body:
You might slim down after 7 days of starvation but regain all the weight you've lost in 2 days.
How can we counter this? Increase calorie output and reduce calorie intake WITHOUT triggering the starvation response. Instead of setting ambitious weight loss goals of 1 kg a day, just ask yourself incrementally:
Can I eat 10% less than what I ate yesterday?
Continue to do so till your stomach starts to feel hunger pangs soon after the meal. Listen well to your body and stop reducing the intake once your body says NO!
At the same time, gradually pencil in more and more frequent and rigorous exercise. If you haven't exercised for a long time and suddenly decided to go for the 42km Full Standard Chartered Marathon in December, you are probably going to elicit a starvation response during the run.
The key word here therefore is: PATIENCE.
I used to think that cardiovascular exercises (e.g. running and aerobics) are superior to weight training (e.g. lifting weights) in burning fats. After all, weight training merely increases muscle mass and cardio actually loses calories… right?
Well, not exactly. When we do cardio exercises, we burn calories for the time we are actually exercising and a few hours afterward. On top of burning calories during exercise and afterward, increased muscle mass from weight training actually helps us to burn MORE calories DAYS after the exercise. Weight training creates more metabolically active muscle tissue, so the more muscle mass you have, the more your body burns your body fat for fuel 24/7.
Some of you out there might be worried about “bulking up” and looking like a body builder but really, that is much harder than you think. Most girls simply do not have sufficient testosterone to support such a massive bulk up. Instead, weight training is likely to result in a sexier, more toned and athletic body.
Still, go for a balance of cardiovascular and weight training to maximize your weight loss results. From what I read online, it is recommended to:
What I actually did
At my most fit (not thin), I went for Les Mils Body Pump classes 3 times a week and as far as possible, squeeze a slow 10km jog in the evenings. On alternate days, I try to go for Indoor Cycling classes, a high intensity cardio exercise that usually gets me sweating bucketloads at the end of the lesson.
A study done in 1959 claimed that 95% of all diets/exercise regimes fail. Regardless whether the study was accurate and relevant in today’s context or not is unimportant. Anyone who has tried losing weight can tell you – the single greatest critical success factor for weight loss is MOTIVATION.
Sustaining weight loss is difficult because you might have a perfect weight loss plan… but until you follow it through till the rest of your life, you are likely to suffer a weight rebound.
What can we do to help in the motivational arena?
Firstly, try to bombard our rational mind with all the reasons why we need to lose weight. Convince yourself that weight loss is good (because it makes you feel better about yourself, improves our health .. lala).
Secondly, resolve emotional issues you may have in your life. What people often don’t realize is that subconscious is often more powerful than our conscious mind. We can tell ourselves to stop eating so much but our hand will still reach over for the chocolate bar… particularly when we feel anxious, depressed or lonely. Weight gain can be a consequence of emotional instability so resolve your underlying stress and you may find yourself slimming down naturally.
Thirdly, don’t make food a reward and exercise a chore. Instead, turn it the other way round, make exercise fun and monsterize desserts! This way, your body will crave for exercise while it is stressful. Consider conditioning your body by going for a run before a major exam, presentation at work or major life event. By making running the “lesser evil”, you feel better after running due to the endorphins released while losing weight at the same time. At other times, simply make exercise part of your habit by penciling it into your schedule. In fact, consider engaging in regular group sports to make the experience more fun.
Good luck on your weight loss journey and no matter what, remember safety first!