Thursday, August 02, 2012

Transformation.

K so I figured I should blog at least once about the major thing that has happened in my life this year. It's my attempt at losing weight.

How did it start? Well I remember the first push was when I went to my family doctor late last year for a cold. She said the cold was not a big deal, but there was this worry in her eyes as she gave me the once over. She ended up taking my blood pressure after which she told me my blood pressure was borderline high, and if I didn't change my diet and start exercising, I would probably have to start popping pills.

That pretty much forced me to accept the reality of the situation. I had gotten fat and fatter over the years. I have never been the exercise type, and I always eaten whatever I wanted. Only time I resembled some sort of decent shape was in the army and that was back in 1996. Chances are I probably would die of a heart attack or something similar within 10 years if I didn't do anything about it.

Of course, the other major push was my charms seemed to be less and less successful when it came to the ladies. As much as I hated to admit it, my growing resemblance to Jabba the Hutt probably had something to do with it. My weight was a depressing 115 kg.

So I decided to embark on my second serious attempt at losing weight. Yes , there was the first attempt, that lasted around 3 months after which I gave up because I wasn't losing any weight. So this time, I decided I need someone to help me. A professional but also a friend so that I don't have to pay (that much).

That friend was my classmate from junior college who is now a physical education teacher in a local secondary school. So I called him up out of the blue and proceeded to initiate Plan "Lose my Inner Jabba" into fruition. I asked him for help in my cutest voice I could muster, you know figured it might work to my advantage if I sounded like one of his students.

Surprisingly he agreed rather readily to become my mentor in this journey of self-torture, at least after making me promise never to speak in a cute voice again. As he puts it , he specialises in lost cases in his school, the kids who society has given up on. Gee thanks, that's a nice confidence boost for me and we haven't even started yet. I made a silent note to send a anonymous message to his school about his lack of motivational skills if this ended badly.

The first session was a disaster. Our friend obviously overestimated my level of fitness despite my numerous protests during the training (he calls it incessant whining) and at the end of a 40 min session (which felt twice as long) I was puking my chicken curry dinner at the side of the road. I was crying too, but it was from the puking. Obviously.

I puked again at the second session. I was thinking at this rate I could save myself the pain and go bulimic instead and get the same benefits with none of the pain. Note to self, stay away from curry before training sessions.

The 3rd session and I didn't puke at all!! Woohoo I was so glad I tried to give my torturer a high five, but he refused, saying "not puking" is not considered an achievement and I shouldn't treat it as one. His harsh words saddened me but I vowed to myself to not let it bring me down. Stick and stones baby.

So it went on. I saw him 3 times a week and we did various cardiovascular exercises. I found out what TRX was (I thought it was that sound system they used in cinemas when he first mentioned it). The exercises got a bit easier as the weeks went on , although there were still a lot of confidence sapping moments. One that comes to mind was when I lay at the side of the pavement completely exhausted and this little girl on her bike laughed at me as she rode past. I made a mental note to trip her bike the next time I see her. You will pay for it bitch. Mental note : I need a notebook for all these mental notes.

It came to a point where our relationship felt closer than it should be. It began to feel weird when I didn't see him, like I would be wondering what he was doing , or whether he was training someone else behind my back. Also I would let him know when I am overseas that I was still keeping to our regime at the hotel gym. I think there was even once where I remember giving him a shoulder massage, although it could have been a dream, I mean nightmare. But anyway I am probably just overreacting.

Of course, on my own I had to completely overhaul my diet as well. Out went the briyani, chicken curry, burgers and fries. In fact, I pretty much cut all fried stuff from my diet , 6 days a week. I went a little too hardcore the first few months going on a mainly salad diet , but it got to a point where I got so sick of salad I couldn't even eat it anymore. So I switched to low carb meals that I could easily prepare myself, and so I ended up with loads of canned tuna and sliced ham. Also I started eating shitloads of fruits to counteract the hunger my poor body was feeling from being deprived of all those rich foods.

I signed up for a couple of 10km runs as well. The first run in March I had a fairly decent timing of 1hr 10 mins, a vast improvement from my timings a few years ago of 1 hr 30 mins. The second run last month was even better with a time of 1 hr.

So where am I now? Well I am around 90 kg now. That's 22kg less than my initial weight. I no longer snore when I sleep. I feel so much better health wise, and it's such a great feeling to be able to run without feeling exhausted 5 mins into a run, it's something I haven't felt since my army days. Hell I never thought I could ever run 10km in an hour until I did it. There are other benefits I haven't expected as well. I had this pretty bad eczema condition in my arms for a long time, but they strangely disappeared a couple of months into my regime. Seems like it was something in my diet that was triggering it.

I hope to drop to 85 kg by the end of the year , and I think it should be do-able if I keep going at the rate I am going.

K will end this post with 2 last points. One is if after all this, I could still relapse and end up gaining all the weight I lost , after which this post would be pretty embarrassing and depressing to read in the future. I can't imagine going back, but you never know, but definitely gonna try my best.

Secondly I am gonna list the points that helped me lose all this weight and those that didn't, for those who are like me and trying to get back to shape. Not sure if they would work for you but they did for me.

Things that worked:

1. I needed someone to push me in the beginning. It's a torture the first 3 months without any help because you are really starting from ground zero in terms of fitness. I would have given up if my friend wasn't there to push me.

2. You needed to change your diet in addition to exercising. Exercising alone will not make a huge difference. This was why my first attempt failed. I cut all sugar and oil. Breakfast is 2 pieces of toast without any spread. Black coffee without sugar or milk. Lunch is fish soup (with rice) if I am out, bread with tuna flakes if I am home. Dinner is bread with ham from cold storage and rocket leaves. Loads of fruits to snack on in between and after each of those meals. Once a week, I let loose and be a bit more free with my choices, but still try to stick to healthier options like grilled chicken. Once every few months I go crazy and gorge on pizza and wings and the like.

3. Make use of technology. I used endomondo to keep track of my runs and my progress in terms of my speed. It is a real motivator to see yourself improving the more you train. I used My Fitness Pal to keep track of my calorie intake (although I only started using this recently when I hit my plateau). Workout trainer, an app for static exercises you can do at home) is for rainy days.

4. I started off exercising 3 times a week. Now it's 5 times a week. I made it a point where if I was home in the evening in front of my computer and I wasn't doing anything worthwhile I would force myself to go for a quick run. Laziness is your enemy.

5. My friend never pushed me to a point where I hated the exercises. It was tough but never to the point I felt like I was dying or dreading the next workout, other than the first 2 sessions. His take was he rather have slower progress than to ramp up the intensity to a point where chances are I wouldn't maintain it for long or on my own. Something to think about if you thinking of hiring a trainer as it seems like they really push people to the max.

Things that didn't work:

1. Trying to invite others to do this as a group. It is ok if they are as motivated as you and share the same goals, but if they are not (and they might not need to be, not a criticism) then you run the risk of following in their footsteps or being discouraged. You really need to make this your own personal goal. It's a bonus if someone joins you , but don't count on it.

2. Mainly Salad diet. After a few months I got so sick of it I refused to eat it. Just stick to low carb meals, look at the labels when you go to the supermarket and pick the ones with the lowest calories.

3. Weighing scale. Your weight will fluctuate during the training , but over time it will go down. So don't have a weighing scale in your house and weigh yourself everyday, it will only make you depress if you suddenly put on a couple of kg. As long as you stick to your regime you are fine, and you will know just by looking at yourself.

So that's it. Anyway here are the obligatory before and after pictures.



Still got the tummy (that's really stubborn and refusing to go away) but let's give it another 6 months and I will post my progress! It's been a fun ride so far.