Path to Wellness
When I was in Europe back last month in May 2017, I noticed that I looked very bloated in some of my pictures. The only thing I could do is to keep my jacket on to hide my overall physique. I knew that overeating and a lack of exercise has caught up to me. I was resolved to make changes in my life when I returned home, to create a manageable healthy lifestyle for the rest of my life.
Enrolling in a gym was the first action step I took when I returned home. Fortunately there is a gym that is walking distance from my home. The gym was intimidating to me. I didn't know how to use any of the equipment properly and everyone there seemed so fit and focused. I knew enrolling in a gym wasn't enough, so I hired a trainer. Although you'd think that exercise played a huge role in my weight loss, most of my time was spent preparing my body with warmups and stretches with no major workouts.
The most significant factor in weight loss this month was diet. I knew this going since I read a few articles that shared how diet can be a greater influence than exercise to weight loss. My trainer helped me in this by teaching me how to track my meals.
Tracking also makes me conscious of what I put in my mouth rather than mindless eating. Although I've changed the way several times in my life, I've never tracked my meals before.
I tracked them using an app called DotFit. There are other similar meal trackers like My Fitness Pal.
They automatically calculate the calories, carbohydrates, fats, proteins, sodium and other statistics.
Based on my information, I was told to make sure I consumed no more than 1800 calories a day. The target ratio of proteins, carbs, and fats was 40-30-30, also known as the zone diet (my ratio was more like 23-47-30). Unlike restrictive diets, I did not cut out
fats or carbs. As a matter of fact, the way I ate this previous month was very similar to how I ate before. The only difference was portion control, choice of meats, and less processed foods and snacking. This balance is sustainable. I could continue even after I reached my target weight and body fat. We tracked my weight and measured my body fat with skin-fold calipers. The goal to meal tracking is to be concious of what you eat and creat a healthy habits so I can make right choices inthe future without having to track meals.
I wanted to lose weight the healthy way and that meant an average of 1 pound and 0.5% body fat a week, I averaged 2.75 pounds a week and 0.485% body fat for a total of 11 pounds and 1.94% Body Fat in One Month.
Unlike previous weight management attempts, I wasn't starving, grouchy nor did I crave any junk foods. I attribute that do balanced nutrition.
What I learned during meal tracking:
- Salad dressings have high sugars or fats and calories. Salads may have more calories, fats, and sugars than other meals.
- Salads by itself (especially without dressing) is not complete meal. Seeds, Nuts, Meats, or Egg will help complete the Salad.
- Chia, Hemp, or Flax Seed makes a big difference to your shake. They contain protein and healthy fats.
- Half a Banana goes a long ways in Smoothies.
- Eating out may not be the healthiest. If you have no choice, then make the best decision. In Hawaii, for plate lunch with friends, I chose Skinless Bar-B-Que Chicken (Boneless Chicken Thigh without Skin with Marinade of Shoyu and Sugar) I only 1 piece and no mac salad.
- Simplifying your meals and routines helps with tracking, shopping, and cooking. My breakfast are shakes that take less than 5 minutes to make, my lunches are salads where I have a variety of proteins to choose from. My dinners vary day to day.
- Unhealthy foods have high calories, but your body will still crave nutrients. For example, in theory, you should be able to on a Chili & Chicken Mixed Plate from Zippy's (1720 Calories), but most people I know that eat it in one sitting still eats more throughout the day.
- You can save money even while eating out. What is usually one meal for me, ends up being 2 or 3 meals.
- Portion control is easy when you have a variety of food. For example, it may be difficult to have one slice of pizza, but when you have one slice of pizza with fruits and salad, your may feel more satiated.
The Non-American Way
Just to be clear, I'm not dieting. I'm just controlling my portions and watching what I eat. Since this is different than what is seen as normal, a lot of people mistaken me for making a temporary change or dieting. I'm not, this is my way of life now.
I've traveled enough around the world to know that the portions of food that are common in the United States are not common elsewhere. The portions I currently eat would considered normal to my relatives in the Philippines or my relatives in Japan. I am resolved to go back to my roots and eat the proper amount than over induldging in food daily. I can do this without giving up (most) of the foods I love.
Let's make healthy eating the new norm. In Hawaii, the land of plate lunches, I thought this to be a difficult task. There's a reason why diabetes is prevalent here. Many locals like myself simply are not going to give up eating the variety foods we grew up with. However, we can make better decisions in how we portions our meals or supplement our meals with healthier sides. It is not only possible. It's simple and it's easy and you save might even save money, too! Join me on this journey.