Archive for September, 2011

How to look lean in the eye of a camera


20110928-011844.jpg

Pictures are very important in our lives because it captures memories. However, many people seem to be cameraphobic because they are afraid that they may not look good in the pictures. In case you are wondering why we often ask ourselves if how come we look fatter in the pictures, the answer is yes we do. Cameras can instantly add 10 lbs. to us in pictures because first, we live in a 3-dimensional environment while the camera creates a 2-dimensional photos which makes the images appear flat. In the future, maybe the technology can keep up especially now that 3-D cameras are now popularized in the market. The second reason why we appear thicker in the pictures is because of a matter of personal perception if how will our photos turn out in the pictures.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder as the saying says so there’s really not much we can do to change our appearance but in the context of enhancing our image in the pictures, there is something we can do to convert those unflattering moments into a flattering one. I’m not talking about photoshopping the pictures or manipulating the camera angles or lighting effects.

Fat loss versus weight loss

I want you to carefully take a quick look at these pictures below.

20110928-021531.jpg

20110928-021543.jpg

20110928-021554.jpg

20110928-021639.jpg

Sure, those were all fashion pictures but what I really want you to notice is that those people above all have low body fat levels. I didn’t used the word thin because being thin is different from being lean. Some people may appear as if they’re thin but they probably have this bulging belly while some people might have lost 10 lbs. or more yet they still have chubby faces. Lean people on the other hand got this toned look and have defined jaw lines and prominent cheekbones. While it’s true that these traits can be results of genetic factors, there are some things that are in our control to adapt the same effect by lowering our body fat levels. This applies to many of us who tries to diet down for an upcoming wedding, a reunion or any special event where we prepare ourselves to look best in the pictures.

You may have lost 10 or more lbs. through dieting or through doing plenty of cardio stuff yet you still look thick in the pictures. This is simply because you acquired the skinny fat syndrome. Skinny fat is a term used to define those thin looking people yet the bulk of their weight is mostly body fat. They may have experienced some weight loss but they must have lost both lean muscles and body fat in the process. In order to achieve that lean and toned look, people who are seeking weight loss should aim for fat loss instead. Many people often asks me regarding a specific diet or exercise that they should do in order for them to get rid of their belly fat. They often tells me that they don’t want to lose weight but they just want to lose their excess belly. Well, we cannot do any spot reduction but as we decrease our body fat stores, these troubled areas will start to shrink eventually. The only way to spot reduce is to undergo in a surgery through liposuction.

How to do a fat loss

In order to achieve fat loss, there should always be a calorie deficit. You can use the fat loss formula that I outlined here. To lose fat, we still need to lose weight only in the form of body fat while preserving the lean body mass or muscles to maintain strength, to give us the toned look and to keep our BMR as high as possible. Keep in mind however that as we lose total body weight, our metabolism also decreases it’s rate as a result of decreased body weight as I described here. Muscle tissues burns more calories(about 6-7 calories/ lb.)at rest than body fat(which burns about 2-3 calories/ lb.).

If you’re not doing any strength training program, you should start doing now to achieve that lean and toned look. You must have seen your favorite Hollywood celebs who have transformed their physique from flabby to lean and you probably think that they have put on tremendous amount of muscle mass but the truth is they probably add some muscle mass but they surely have lost a lot of body fat that’s why they appear more muscular and toned. This applies to both and women. Women shouldn’t fear lifting weights because training with weights will not make them big and bulky.

It’s also very important to eat adequate protein intake in order to maintain a positive nitrogen balance during a hypocaloric diet thus it creates an acute thermic effect advantage which can be beneficial for fat loss in the long run. Protein also keeps people satiated while on a hypocaloric diet.

For dietary fats intake, refer to my suggestion here. I’m not a fan of generic diets because I strongly believe that any diet regardless of the goal should be personalized accordingly. For carbohydrates needs, people have varying tolerance and individual needs that’s why you should read this article. Lyle McDonald is one of the best fitness source on the Internet. You can also check his books because you can find a lot of useful and reliable information.

As far as cardiovascular activities such as running, biking, swimming, or NEAT are concerned, it should only be used for supplemental calorie burn. For lighter individuals who needs lower calories to create a calorie deficit, it makes more sense to increase their activities instead rather than decreasing their calorie intake even further.

Now that we know the difference between weight loss and fat loss, we can now be more confident to participate on picture takings. We can now also wear some other colors other than black. Keep in mind that wearing something black only creates an illusion therefore, we are only fooling ourselves.

Enjoy the cheese.

20110928-064546.jpg

That photo of myself from above was a joke. I fattened myself up using an iPhone app called the fatbooth app.

Here’s what I really look like in the camera

20111029-065416.jpg

20130426-021949.jpg

Decreasing body fat stores may also improve your facial features. Here’s a side by side comparison of my picture when I was 18 yrs. old (on the left) with higher body fat and now that I’m 30 yrs. old (on the right) with a lower body fat level.

20130814-031530.jpg<br

For men, decreasing your body fat level gives you that blocky face instead of the round, puffy look. For women, it creates an illusion of hollow cheeks while making your cheekbones more prominent. Women who are really good on applying makeup can pull this off by using bronzer I think. Why would you just rely on makeup alone if you can do this naturally?

20140704-002542-1542950.jpg

E-warrior diet


20110925-094737.jpg

For many years, putting excessive hours playing video games has been associated with the increased prevalence of obesity. Well, of course, that word “excessive” is incorrect to begin with because anything of too much can always compromise the opportunity to stay physically active just like I wrote here:
Outrunning a bad diet.
But of course, not everyone has the opportunity to log many hours to stay physically active due to lifestyle demands or personal preferences. Does it mean that playing video games can automatically hurt weight/ fat loss? Well, not necessarily. Charles Darwin once said that the “survival of any species depends on it’s adaptability to it’s environment.” Now, in the context of weight management, to rephrase his statement, it will be translated into something like this: “the leanness of a person depends on his ability to adjust himself accordingly to his environment.” This is the whole point of context dieting solution.

Aside from fitness stuff and collecting action figures, my other hobby is playing as an e-warrior. In fact, I just beat the game dead island last night. I injured my lower back last week when I was doing some stiff-leg deadlifts that’s why it allowed me to spend more time playing e-warrior. Basically, I’m planning to do an active recovery but instead of doing lower intensity workouts, I’ll just simply increase my NEAT activities for a week or two until my back has fully recovered.

I know that somewhere out there, there are other e-warriors who likes playing video games as much I do but at the same time, they want to stay lean and fit that’s why I’m writing this blog for. I explained here the bright side of playing video games by diverting our attention away from thinking about foods. At my body weight 132 lbs., my Bodybugg SP predicted that I can burn about 67 calories per hour as an e-warrior. It may not be that many calories burned because if I play let’s say for 8 hours, that would only be 67 x 8 = 536 calories but it’s all about lifestyle modifications. If you spend most of your time being sedentary then you don’t need that many calories so all you have to do is to adjust your diet according to your lifestyle.

Not thinking about food can be a good thing but an e-warrior still needs to eat of course to provide energy on long online game match so I designed a diet that would cater to e-warriors. I would suggests calorie counting strategy in this context. If you own a smart phone, calorie tracking is now much easier, heck I even write my blog posts using my iPhone. 🙂 As far as the template goes, in determining the amount of calories needed according to your fitness goal, we use that formula. As far as macronutrient proportion ratios, my suggestion is always to eat an adequate protein diet which can range anywhere between 0.8-1.5 grams of protein per target body weight/ amount of lean body mass(muscles). Eating a high protein diet is always a double whammy because aside from it’s highly satiating effect, protein also happened to be the macronutrient with the highest TEF value among the 3 macronutrients.

20110925-104658.jpg

As far as dietary fat needs, I like using the target body weight divided by 2.0-2.5 then the dividend will be the amount of allotted fats that can be eaten in grams. Depending on the amount of hours you are planning to spend playing video games, obviously, you don’t need that many carbohydrates in your diet because carbohydrates is not an essential macronutrient. However, being not essential nutrient doesn’t mean that it’s not needed to promote optimal health therefore, as far as the amount of carbohydrates is concerned, there are two approaches that can be followed. One is the targeted ketogenic type diet wherein you eat 50 grams of carbohydrates about an hour before and after strength training. I suggests incorporating a regular strength training routine on the e-warrior diet to maintain strength and lean muscle mass 3-4x a week. Doing so will ensure that you maintain your muscle mass and strength giving you that “toned” look even if you’re an e-warrior. Ketogenic diet has an appetite-suppressing effect effect to some people but not on everyone.

The other approach is the non-ketogenic diet which is by eating about 120-130 grams of carbohydrates during non-training days while eating 150 grams of carbs on training days. I suggests that you limit your starchy carbs intake into 0-1 serving during your rest days while on training days, consume about 2 servings of starchy carbs for fat loss. If your goal is to gain weight, you can incorporate more servings. The rest of your carbohydrates should come from varied fruits and vegetables. Note that some vegetables can be high on starch also. If you’re not sure if how many time you should eat in a day, check this blog.

Effective weight management is all about wise lifestyle adjustments. If there’s a will, there’s always a way. There’s always a room for everything. We just need to become aware and learn how to adapt.

Souping up the metabolism


20110924-011121.jpg

Metabolism is derived from the Greek word metabol(é) which means to change(meta + bolé = throw). In biology/ physiology, metabolism is the sum up of the physical and chemical process in an organism by which it’s material substance is produced, maintained and destroyed by which energy is made available. To many of us, in layman terms, when we hear the word metabolism, we immediately think of the rate of a person’s energy or food conversion. In this blog, I’m not going to share voodoo tips that will magically strip your body fat away despite of your bad eating habits but I will list down some pennies that would help us make a dollar. My grandmother used to tell me when I was a kid that I should treasure every bit of the penny because those combined pennies can help me make a dollar. In the context of weight management, this translates to valuing every bit of strategies no matter how big or small but it’s importance should not be neglected.

Lately, my family and I are enjoying going to the food truck row festival that’s being held every Wednesdays and Fridays in our area in SoCal.

20110924-014059.jpg

20110924-014150.jpg

20110924-014224.jpg

Food truck row is a festival wherein several food trucks are gathering in one place on a particular day to sell diverse foods on the streets. You can smell the aroma of attention-catching foods while watching people eating tantalizing foods so you cannot help yourself but to join the herd 🙂 Since, these food trucks are not listing the calorie content of their menus, I outlined the strategy I use here to stay lean combined with my regular calorie counting and regular exercise.

People have varying rates of metabolic rate and it’s normally dictated by genetics so obviously, there’s nothing we can do about it but, there are some variables that are in our control that we can use to soup up our metabolism. I will enumerate these techniques one by one.

1.) Taking advantage of TEF or thermic effect of foods:

Another reason why you should eat adequate protein on a diet especially on a weight/ fat loss diet is because protein is considered as the most satiating macronutrient among the three(protein, fats and carbohydrates). Aside from it’s high satiating property, protein is also the macronutrient that creates the highest TEF among those three which means that if we eat let’s say 100 calories worth of protein, 20-30% of those calories will be lost simply just by processing the protein in the body. Stick to the leanest cuts of meat to slash down tag along fats that normally comes with meat.

2.) Have a regular/ habitual meal frequency. While, meal frequency doesn’t really matter which I discussed here but haphazard meal frequency or no regular eating pattern is what we really have to worry about because haphazard eating frequency can lower postprandial energy expenditure.

3.) Drink tea or coffee or both

Aside from the ergogenic benefits of caffeine, drinking caffeinated beverages can enhance lipolysis especially on lean individuals but less on obese. Personally, I’m a regular coffee drinker myself that’s why I drink about 2-3 cups of black coffee everyday. According to a study conducted by Jessen A. et al, consumption of caffeinated beverages can also suppress appetite especially with the combination of nicotine. Some people were also using ephedra(or ephedrine) combined with caffeine to increase weight/ body fat loss even further.

4.) Get adequate sleep and regular sleeping pattern as much as possible

The amount of total calories we burn while we are sleeping may not be much but it’s impact in our hormonal environment is huge. Adequate sleep is not only important on regulating metabolism but also on immune function. During deep sleep, sympathetic nervous system activity is generally decreased and parasympathetic nervous system activity is increased. Sleep loss is associated with an elevation of sympathovagal balance, with higher sympathetic but lower parasympathetic tone. Most endocrine organs are sensitive to changes in sympathovagal balance. Well-documented examples are pancreatic insulin secretion and release by the fat cells of leptin, an appetite-suppressing hormone. Leptin is protein hormone that plays a key role in regulating energy intake and energy expenditure, including appetite and metabolism. Sleep loss can also impair optimal thyroid function. Most of us know that our thyroid gland plays a huge role on regulating our metabolism.
Elevations of evening cortisol levels in chronic sleep loss are likely to promote the development of insulin resistance, a risk factor for obesity and diabetes. In short, sleep is very important in our health and on maintaining an optimal metabolism. As a rotational shift-worker, this has been my biggest issue that’s why I’m doing my best to get as much sleep as possible whenever I can.

5.) Eat spicy foods

Personally, I like adding some crushed red chili peppers on my pizza, some Tabasco hot sauce or Sriracha sauce on my meat dish. Aside from increasing TEF, eating spicy foods such as red peppers can also suppress appetite. However, long-term spicy foods intake may make individuals become desensitized to the effects of red peppers.

6.) Manage stress

Stress is not bad at all although chronic exposure to it is like I discussed here. Physiologically speaking, stress can suppress food metabolism in order to mobilize stored energy. Behaviorally speaking, stress can make some people increase or decrease appetite. Have a positive outlook in life and maintain a good attitude.

7.) Gain weight

If your goal is all about weight loss, decreasing our total body weight can in fact hurt our metabolic rate simply because metabolism works like an engine. A bigger engine requires more fuel therefore burns more fuel. Gaining weight is not the same as gaining/ getting fat albeit, it may come along the process as we increase our muscle mass. Do not fear muscles(especially women), because lean muscle mass burns more calories at rest than adipose tissues(fat cells). The difference isn’t that much but the effects can also be beneficial on the metabolic rate in the long run.

These tips that I enumerated above must be combined with a reduced-calorie diet along with a regular exercise to maximize it’s benefits. Please do not rely on such tactics alone to create a calorie deficit. Use them wisely.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/15955118/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2129151/

http://www.medscape.org/viewarticle/502825

http://www.ncbi.nlm.gov/m/pubmed/21093467/

http://f1000.com/reports/b/2/13/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/7485480/

Redefining fitness plateau


20110917-103553.jpg

Fitness plateau can be defined as the state or a period where there is a little to no lost nor improvements achieved on a given fitness goal. In our modern society, we’ve been brainwashed to think that plateauing in fitness is automatically a bad thing and we need to address it by either eating less or exercising more or to constantly add weights on the bar or even having to “change things up a bit”. I know that we all like to see consistent inch/size/weight loss or a consistent strength/ hypertrophy gains. There’s nothing wrong with assessing our eating/ training or changing things up, but given that some people consistently lose/ gain doing simple techniques and modifications, if something is still working, just keep doing it consistently. There’s an old time saying “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it” which also applies in the context of diet and training stuff. It’s almost everyday that new fitness marketing stuff are coming out and each one of these campaign have their own “revolutionary” program that promises to breakthrough the dreaded plateaus. From that concept, it created a false perception to many people that plateauing in our fitness goal must be avoided at all cost. It even made some people believe that we can confuse our muscles to create a stimulus for further muscle gains(hypertrophy goal) but the truth is, we can never confuse a muscle because it doesn’t have a mind on it’s own. Sure, the “muscle confusion” concept must have worked to some people that you may know of but it worked for them not because they were able to confused their muscles to prevent plateauing but there are other reasons why it worked for them such as but not limited to: muscle memory, newbie gains and through diet & training consistency. Feel free to google search the first two factors that I have mentioned if you’re not familiar with the terminologies but in my observation, the biggest factor why that “muscle confusion” works to some people is because of the latter reason that I cited above which was the diet and training consistency. People loves variety; it’s the spice of life as they say. So, to some people who have gotten results from confusing their muscles, it’s actually a result of their compliance to their diet and training because the muscle confusion theory program actually consists of different types of training in one program in order to get rid of that boredom effect many people experience from doing the same training program over and over again.

Many people fail to meet their fitness goal in the long-term as a result of lack of adherence to their diet or training or both. Just like what I mentioned in this blog: https://jeanpauloman.wordpress.com/2011/09/17/the-rule-of-lifetime-leanness/, fitness is a marathon, not a sprint which basically means that acquiring long-lasting fitness results may take some time to achieve whether it’s fat loss or muscle mass/ strength gain. While there are some effective means of achieving fast fitness results, these approaches normally works/ can only be done temporarily. Anyway, backpedalling to the fitness plateau, fitness plateau both applies to diet and training. We are living in an environment where we embrace everything that gives us instant results. This is the same reason why many of us would rather settle for a diet pill, liposuction and other quick-fix method rather than putting some time in and some effort to make our fitness goal work. Fitness plateau got such a bad reputation to the point that everyone must condone it’s importance.

Yes you read that right. Fitness plateau can also be important in the right context of application. Why so? Because in every fitness goal, be it fat loss, strength or muscle mass gain, everyone’s goal must be to reach a plateau. Let me explain, fitness plateau is the ultimate adaptation of any given stimulus to the body. Training wise, when we plateau, we experience less muscle soreness after a workout as a result of an effective adaptation to the workout. Just because we are not experiencing the “soreness factor” anymore doesn’t mean that our workout isn’t effective. It is still effective but it’s effect on us is the adaptation from the external stimulus. To some people, muscle soreness is the gauge they use to measure the efficacy of their workout. This is not always true because muscle soreness is a result of DOMS(Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). DOMS is the pain and stiffness felt in muscles several hours to days after unaccustomed or strenuous exercise. The soreness is felt most strongly 24 to 72 hours after the exercise. After such exercise, the muscle “adapts” rapidly to prevent muscle damage, and thereby soreness, if the exercise is repeated. Muscle soreness usually occurs when you make your muscles do something that they just aren’t used to doing. You know, like when some sort of change is made. Although it can be alarming for new exercisers, delayed onset muscle soreness is a normal response to unusual exertion and is part of an “adaptation” process that leads to greater stamina and strength as the muscles recover and build hypertrophy. In other words, when we experience a plateau from our training, our body is simply preparing us for further stimulus that’s why we become stronger in our lifts and potentially build more mass as a result of progressive overload and/ or fatigue. Your workouts aren’t any more or less effective, your body just got a lot better at adapting to and recovering from the stress exercise is placing on it.

In the context of dieting be it fat loss(hypocaloric), maintenance or bulking phase(hypercaloric) plateauing should still be incorporated because reaching a diet adaptation will allow us to adapt to our new body weight/ body composition. The human body is designed for survival. From evolutionary perspective, the reason why it’s harder to lose more weight once we are already lean or we already lost significant amount of weight, it is our body’s defense mechanism to ensure our survival aside from the fact that lower total body weight requires less energy(calories) to maintain. When our calorie intake and/ or stored energy supply(adipose tissue/ body fat stores) are already low, it enables us to stay alive even during famine. In that context, that is the importance of plateauing because our ancestors remained alive during famine because their bodies plateaued at lower calorie intake because food supply during that time are scarce and aren’t easily accessible.

In our modern world, foods are now easily accessible and our existence doesn’t depend on survival adaptation anymore but to look good or to improve our health instead. The importance of plateauing ourselves to our diet plan is also for adaptation purposes. The reason why successful dieters can adhere to their diet plan is because they have experienced plateau in their diet therefore resulting on adaptation after a new desired body weight has been established for a certain period of time. This phenomena is known as the settling-point theory. Settling-point theory refers to the idea that weight tends to drift around the level at which the constellation of factors that determine food consumption and energy expenditure achieve an equilibrium. Although, there is no evidence that our body favors lower body weight(or set point), anecdotally speaking, in my own experience, it can be done through plateauing at a certain body weight for a long period of time.

Next time somebody tells you that you should do this and you shouldn’t do that to avoid fitness plateau, tell them that plateau is not necessarily a bad thing. It just depends on the context of scenario and application.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2990627/

The rule of lifetime leanness


20110916-053933.jpg

There is a saying that “fitness is a marathon, not a sprint.” It’s true, indeed because the real goal of any successful weight management plan doesn’t end once we lose those unwanted weight/fat but rather it’s simply the beginning of a much longer-term goal which is the maintenance. This is the critical part where many dieters fail as a result of failure to adapt or a result of an inappropriate adaptation to the new lifestyle changes. Our everyday lives are not linear at all. It could be any lifestyle changes such as change of career/ jobs, relocation to another place/ country, change of marital, financial status, etc. and so forth. Guess what, these environmental changes can strongly affect our relationship with fitness because to many people, fitness stuff be it exercise or diet or both are the first thing to go when such lifestyle changes occurs. Just like what I have discussed in this blog , fitness is not a switch which we can be turn on and off. An effective and successful weight management is a result of consistency and dedication. Whatever eating pattern or plan we choose, it should be molded according to our lifestyle and not the other way around.

I don’t know if you ever heard of Malcolm Gladwell, the author of a popular book called “The Outliers.” In Outliers, Gladwell examines the factors that contribute to high levels of success. To support his thesis, he examines the causes of why the majority of Canadian ice hockey players are born in the first few months of the calendar year, how Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates achieved his extreme wealth, and how two people with exceptional intelligence, Christopher Langan and J. Robert Oppenheimer, end up with such vastly different fortunes. Throughout the publication, Gladwell repeatedly mentions the “10,000-Hour Rule”, claiming that the key to success in any field is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours.

Now, you may be wondering if what’s the relevance of this 10,000 hour-rule in the context of weight management? Let me explain. I strongly believe that this 10,000 hour rule applies in general. Our fitness goal does not end after reading a diet book nor a fitness article. It takes a lot of reading, researching, observation, investigation, application of acquired knowledge into reality, etc. While part of success is being at the right time and place, those two factors are beyond our control so it just makes sense to focus on the things that we can do something about and that is to increase our knowledge(awareness) about fitness stuff be it nutrition, exercise stuff, thermodynamics, etc. Without awareness, we can never come up with the most appropriate solution on a given situation.

I still remember that four years ago, when I started embracing fitness, I totally got lost on how to begin my fitness journey. I wish I had someone out there who had guided me towards the right direction but just like what people say, experience is the best teacher because it allows you to learn through several trials and errors. To some people, they quit when they fail in their weight loss journey without realizing that that failure was simply an opportunity to oversee what works and what doesn’t work. There are many events in this life that are not in our control but how we respond to this events are definitely in our control.

Before I go too far, I posted my own diet story in this blog. I’m not saying that I have a great-looking physique nor I’m the Mr. Know-it-all type but in the context of maintaining a long-term weight management, I have successfully done that and until now, my years of leanness are still expanding. There are many people who asks me if how do I do it(meaning how do I stay lean while being a family man and while working double jobs). Before, I always thought that I was simply dedicated to fitness as a result of my intense passion for it but now, after reading the Outliers book, it made me realized that the other reason why I can manage my weight so effectively despite of my hectic lifestyle is because of the amount of time that I logged in it.

Does it mean that I’ve spent 10,000 hours reading fitness stuff or exercising? Well, not necessarily but parts of it are because it also includes my observation on what’s going on in the reality, investigation of the studies that I have researched, reading various fitness articles and browsing different fitness websites and so forth. My point is, people who are serious about staying lean for life must educate themselves about fitness stuff whether it’s nutrition-related or exercise or both. This is the only way of arming ourselves with adequate tools to achieve a long-term weight management. There is always a way to solve a specific problem when it comes to managing our weight albeit, it highly varies from person to person’s case/ situation that’s why I created this blog. Just keep in mind that when it comes to fitness-related stuff, everything are complex. We can never take things on it’s absolute level that’s why we should also learn how to think rationally. An open mind allows more opportunity that’s why we should heed any fitness advice with a grain of salt including mine.

Many people around me often asks me for some diet/ exercise advice. Some people are sending me private messages in Facebook while some of my friends, former classmates and even my coworkers also asks me for advice. I actually take it as a compliment because it means that they value my opinion but the thing is, I cannot just give them some random fitness advice. Fitness itself is such a very complex matter because every person’s situation is different. I cannot just give them some generic diet plan and everything will be solved instantly.
I explained here why generic fitness advice should be avoided.

If you are reading this blog, you may think that we need to become a fitness geek in order to successfully manage our weight. The answer is sort of and it depends… It depends because some people can get away with simple lifestyle modifications while some people needs a more complicated approach. Whatever level of fitness geek you may have to reach, what matters most is to embrace fitness as a part of your life. The more time you invest in it, it will pay you back in return.

For the time being, I will leave you this song from New Radicals because the message of the song is related to this blog post:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2736020/

How to stay lean and fit after marriage


20110913-122527.jpg

It’s not peculiar at all to gain excess weight upon getting married. This applies both to men and women. Outside good genetics meaning unless you’re one of those people who is naturally lean(which are very few people), it’s quite normal to gain excess weight after getting married not because marriage comes along with some spell nor curse that’s why I am writing this blog for. It is very important to become aware of the factors that causes such unnecessary weight gain. Some fitness gurus may give us some advice regarding their personal experience on staying lean after getting married but if we think about it, one of the reasons why they stay lean aside from good genetics is they don’t have average jobs like most people do therefore, they can manage their physique more easily because they can prioritize their diet and training without worrying about 9-5 pm jobs aside from their OCD behavior which also helps them on staying lean. I’m not saying that we should refrain from seeking advice from them but the point is not to mimic their protocols but to adapt some of their sound principles which applies in our personal situation like I discussed in this blog.

Anyway, the following factors that I will enumerate below are the possible reasons why most of us gain weight
after getting married:

1.) We are no longer trying to attract a partner

2.) Pregnancy occurs

3.) We cook for gratification

4.) We eat as much as our partner

5.) We put our family’s eating preferences above our own

6.) We become the family’s garbage disposal

7.) Our partner sabotages us

8.) We are in an unhappy marriage and turn to food for solace

9.) We have unresolved issues

10.) We have more responsibilities and demands(financial obligations, family matters, etc) which often leads to chronic exposure to stress

11.) Change of environment such as migrating to another place or country with a different culture

12.) Lowered testosterone levels in men upon fatherhood

There may be some other factors that I forgot to mention above but now that we are aware of these factors, we can now easily tackle them one by one so that we can learn how to adapt from each one:

1.) We are no longer trying to find a partner
This is a common reason many married people begin putting on weight.

Many unmarried people watch their diets and stay in shape simply to attract a partner. Once a partner has been “secured” through marriage, they no longer feel the need to look their best and therefore discard many of the healthy lifestyle habits that kept their weight down.

Solution: Be consistent with your diet and exercise. Staying fit and healthy even after marriage will not only improve the quality of the marriage itself but you will be fit and healthy enough to keep up with your growing kids. Always try to find a motivation to be in good shape like I discussed here.

2.) Pregnancy
Pregnancy can be a bit of a double-whammy when it comes to weight gain.

Firstly, many women overeat during their pregnancy and become too inactive, believing that they need to eat a lot more than they actually do and that they need to slow down and relax more than they do.

Giving in to cravings for calorie-dense foods during this time only compounds the problem.

Secondly, once a woman gives birth, she often finds herself staying at home more and putting the needs of her child and family before her own. In extreme cases, some women don’t just make their newborn the center of their world, they make it the whole of their world and this can often lead to serious problems including significant weight gain.

Husbands too can gain excess weight during his wife’s pregnancy, especially if they try to keep up with the eating efforts of their wives. Personally speaking, I used to guilty of doing this habit during my wife’s first pregnancy until I became I aware and adapted.

Solution:

The expecting mother should watch her weight carefully during pregnancy, develop a good eating habits as much as possible and get an appropriate amount of the right type of exercise both during and immediately after the pregnancy. It also helps to increase NEAT activities.

If hubby can do the same, he shouldn’t have any unnecessary weight gain problems either.

3.) We start cooking for gratification
Many wives or husbands use cooking to impress their partner and keep them happy.

The problem with this is, the more the husband appreciates the food and praises the cooking the more likely the wife is to use food as a source of gratification and the more weight the couple put on.

Some women even lay guilt trips on their husbands if they aren’t getting the gratification they need. Essentially, many wives indirectly say to their husbands, “I worked very hard preparing this food for you; you’d better eat it all and ask for more to show how much you love me.”

Solution: Practice moderation-type diet and consider tracking your calorie intake. Remember that there’s always a room for everything; it just needs to be at the right amount. And also, remember that appreciating you and your cooking and eating every last bit of a meal you have prepared is not the same thing.

4.) We eat as much as our partner
The larger we are, the more energy we need to maintain our body size. A bigger engine burns more fuel than a small engine.

When one partner is smaller than the other but eats the same amount of food that their partner needs to maintain their size, the inevitable result is unwanted weight gain.

This is often a problem for women who eat as much as their husbands but have much smaller bodies to begin with.

Solution:
If you are smaller than your partner, you don’t need to eat as much food as them in order to maintain your current bodyweight like I wrote here.
You can also modify your cooking method in order to minimize the calorie content of your meals in example grilled/ baked versus fried.

5.) We put our family’s eating preferences above our own
Generally speaking, women tend to like to please others and their maternal instinct often results in them putting the needs of others before their own.

As far as eating is concerned, this often means that many wives end up eating foods that their husbands or children like to eat, rather than what they would prefer.

If your husband(or wife) likes to eat food that you would rather not, don’t. Prepare a separate meal for yourself and if he/ she refuses to eat more sensibly, let him eat poorly on his own.

As far as children are concerned, it’s okay to let them eat what they want once in awhile, but as their parents, we have an obligation to set a good example for them and teach them develop a sensible eating habits.

6.) We become the family garbage disposal
Many parents can’t stand seeing uneaten food left on plates because they were taught to finish their meals as a child and their parents told them that uneaten food was a waste.

As a result, many married couple end up eating any unfinished food on their children or partners plate, not realizing how many extra and unnecessary calories they are consuming as a result.

If this is a recurring problem at your place, either serve smaller meals/ lower your meal frequency in exchange for a moderate size to bigger portions like I discussed here or encourage yourself to forget what your parents taught you and save any leftovers in the fridge. You will not solve famine and starvation in poor countries by finishing your leftover foods in one sitting. If you’re eating out in a restaurant/ fastfood chain, take your any leftovers home.

7.) Our partner sabotages us
This sabotage can take two forms and can be either conscious or unconscious.

The first form of sabotage happens when our partner encourages us to put on weight so we appear less attractive to other men or women. By making helping to make us heavier and less attractive, our partner feels that they won’t need to compete for our affections in the future.

It also means that if they have a weight problem themselves, they won’t be forced to deal with it.

If they don’t currently have a weight problem but want to ‘let themselves go’, they can do so without fear of losing us if we are heavy too.

The second form of sabotage happens for the same reason, but relates to sabotaging weight loss efforts rather than trying to beef us up.

When one person within a couple tries to lose weight, their spouse may become jealous and try to undermine their efforts in subtle ways like bringing home chocolates or other calorie-dense food items that they know their partner will find hard to resist.

In extreme cases, partners can be accused of neglecting their children if they are spending time away from home exercising, etc. But there is a compromise which I personally apply in my case.

Solution: If you find this happening to you, sit down with your partner and tell them why you are trying to lose weight and how important their support is to you achieving your goals.

Explain to them that you are trying to lose weight for health reasons and that they don’t necessarily have to change their lifestyle habits, but they should at least support you.

The ideal solution to this problem is to encourage your partner and family to stay fit and get healthier with you. Then there will be no need for them to sabotage what you are doing and you can all adapt healthier living habits together. Personally, I’m the fitness geek between me and my wife that’s why I’m the one who encourages her to get into fitness stuff and I’m still trying until now 🙂

8.) We are in an unhappy marriage and turn to food for solace
Research suggests that happily married people put on less weight than their unhappily married counterparts.

This should not be surprising given that several studies have found that unhappily married people turn to food as a substitute for unfulfilled needs in a marriage.

Solution: Communication is very important between married couples. Learn how to communicate and compromise things or in some cases, consider seeking professional help for marriage counselling.

9.) We have unresolved issues
There are a myriad of unresolved issues that can lead us to gaining unwanted weight during a marriage, some of which we have already briefly touched on that’s why communication is very important.

Others issues may include things like wanting to be loved unconditionally, feeling that we don’t deserve to be happy, feeling disrespected, rejected ,unloved and some misunderstandings.

Solution: If you feel that you have unresolved emotional issues that are contributing to your weight gain, inability to lose weight or keeping your motivation to diet and workout regularly, perhaps consider getting reputable professional help.

10.) We have more responsibilities and demands(financial obligations, family matters, etc) which often leads to chronic exposure to stress
Chronic exposure to stress can negatively affect our homeostasis which includes affecting our appetite, behavior towards eating/ body movements and metabolism in the context of weight management. Just like what I wrote here: We have more responsibilities and demands(financial obligations, family matters, etc) which often leads to chronic exposure to stress

Solution: Be proactive. Manage your stress levels more effectively. Instead of thinking what you can get out of something, think of what you can do to get that something.

11.) Change of environment such as migrating to another place or country with a different culture
Just like what I wrote here.
Humans have a strong relationship with our environment. It could be a different culture, a work environment, a different country, or an obesogenic environment where foods are easily accessible and abundant while automation is being practiced, these factors from the environment greatly affects what are body composition would be like.

Solution: That’s why it is very important to become aware of our environment including the factors that can potentially affect our behavior and physiological responses. That is the key to adapting appropriately so we could adapt to our environment regardless of it’s setting.

12.) Lowered T-levels on men upon fatherhood

According to this paper , fatherhood lowers men’s testosterone levels. Testosterone is the primary male hormone produced in the testicles responsible for the development of the male sexual characteristics (e.g. growth of facial and pubic hair, deepening of the voice, increase in muscle mass and strength, and a growth in height). This hormone also helps to maintain sex drive, sperm production, muscle mass and bone mass. Small amounts of testosterone are also produced in women by the ovaries and adrenal glands.
Lowered testosterone production in men means less fat-burning hormone.

Solution: Life is full of compromise so the best way to maintain a healthy testosterone levels are managing stress levels, eating a balance diet, by maintaining a regular exercise and last but not the least, maintain a low body fat percentage. Maintaining a healthy body composition can optimize hormonal environment.

Now that we are aware of these factors, from here we can start to learn how to adapt and adjust our lifestyle according to our environment. A lot of people around me are wondering if what my techniques are on how I stay very lean despite of my busy lifestyle between work and family.

~ Our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change. ~

Share and enjoy.

A wise dieter also has to be a smart shopper


20110910-092227.jpg

A successful long-term diet plan is a diet plan we can adhere to. A diet that we can maintain for a long time; therefore, a diet has to be budget-friendly from practicality standpoint. Most of us already know that an ideal diet is any diet that is adequate in lean protein , rich in fruits and vegetables and some whole grains. However, many people argues that a healthy diet costs more money to sustain than just eating mass produced processed foods. This is not true, because as long as we keep our eyes open as a part of becoming aware in our environment, a healthy diet with wide variety of whole foods sources can be quite inexpensive especially if we think of it’s long-term benefits in our health. Healthcare costs is a lot more expensive than buying high quality foods. I’m not saying that eating certain types of foods automatically makes a person unhealthy but since most highly-processed, mass produced foods are often higher in calorie content than most whole foods which in return often leads many of us to consume more calories than we need. Here are some tips on how to be a wise dieter and a smart shopper:

Just like today for example, I found this on sale today in my favorite supermarket

20110910-093212.jpg

If and when you see something like these on sale, buy them in bulk and freeze the rest. As long as they’re sealed properly, the meat will not get freezer burn. If you have a flexible diet like me/ if you are a flexible dieter like me, I based my weekly menu based on the meats that are on sale for the week. You need some cooking skills of course and some creativity 🙂
Personally, I don’t follow any diet but I manipulate my diet based on my lifestyle, my physical activities and of course, my personal palatability. In some cases, just like what I wrote on this blog about the convenience of using protein powders in a diet.

Consider buying frozen vegetables

20110910-094127.jpg

If you’re not a big salad eater like me, I prefer eating my veggies cooked along with my lean meat to add more flavor to my cuisine. Most Filipino dishes are prepared with mixed meats and veggies cooked altogether. Even if you prefer eating salad, look for the fresh produce that are on sale or in season.

Buy fruits that are in season

20110910-094911.jpg

This strategy will not only save us money but will also boosts our diet’s nutritional value in the context of eating a wider variety of fruits and vegetables. There are certain types of fruits that are sometimes cheaper and more nutritious than fresh ones if bought in frozen form such as frozen strawberries, blueberries and other berries. These fruits are ideal for making protein shakes.

Here’s my strawberry-banana shake recipe that I drink for convenience:

1 small-medium banana
1 cup strawberries
1 cup fat-free/ reduced fat milk
1-2 scoops of strawberry flavored protein powder

Put them all in a blender for 30 seconds then enjoy the refreshing taste.

As far as whole grains and some starchy carbs are concerned, aside from buying seasonal whole grains such as whole corn, also try exploring unconventional produce such as Japanese yams(my favorite), yucca, jicama, quinoa and taro. If you happen to live in southern California, some 99 cents store sells a pound of basmati rice for a buck each!

Some other fresh vegetables that some of you guys might be willing to try are Chinese broccoli, bokchoy, water spinach, malunggay leaves, sweet potato leaves are just some of the few Asian vegetables that in my opinion, tastes great. There’s no need to buy organic foods because the most recent studies shows that organic foods does not offer superior nutritional benefits than of conventional counterpart.

Always remember that foods avoidance leads to nutrient compromise. Although in some circumstances, certain food avoidance becomes a necessary evil depending on the context of scenario. Eating and shopping smart doesn’t mean that the taste quality has to compromise. A well-balanced diet will always trump any fad diet.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12907407