On Losing Weight.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed are of my own and in no way representative of any group, organisation or individuals that I am associated with. Please seek medical advice before embarking on any new exercise regime, especially if you have any pre-existing medical conditions or have been sedentary for a while. If all else fails, please apply some basic common sense (which I must admit is not so common sometimes) and advice such as that which my physiotherapist gave me: If it hurts to walk, don’t run. (Unless of course your life depends on it, i.e. being chased by a lion, running out of a burning building or that damn 1500m at the end to become a decathlete.)

One of the most common questions I get asked when people find out that I’m studying Sports Science at university is about how to lose weight. I will attempt to give my two cents worth of an answer to this question in a sea of health blogs, magazines, slimming centres and products that contribute to  a global market for weight loss worth an estimated US$586.3 billion by 2014)

So are you ready for the big revelation that I had about this? Here goes:

Your body does not generate mass out of thin air.

Get it?

Your body does not generate mass out of thin air. Everything that your body is made of came from the things that you have eaten and you are literally what you eat. Now that we have set this as a basis of understanding, we can then proceed to look at the science behind this.

The underlying scientific principle of weight gain or loss is based on the caloric balance equation.

If Caloric intake > Caloric Expenditure = Weight Gain

If Caloric Intake < Caloric Expenditure = Weight Loss

If Caloric Intake = Caloric Expenditure = Weight Balance

So in this case losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight is easy isn’t it? All you got to do is to eat less calories than you burn and you’re on your way to your desired healthy weight. Once you do hit it, all you have to do is to maintain the caloric intake and expenditure balance and you’re happily maintaining it.

Well, not exactly. (Obviously, if it was then the multibillion weight loss industry would not exist.)

So what makes maintaining a healthy weight that difficult?

Enter psychology.

The problem is that we often do not eat food just for food but there are other psychological attachments to it. Some of us eat for comfort whilst others don’t for a sense of control. The extreme ones cause health problems that get very real if you, like me, have encounters friends who are like this. If you suspect yourself as suffering from any eating disorder, please talk to someone and if possible seek medical help. Do understand if you don’t, you’re not only hurting yourself but those around you that love and care for you so dearly.

Another fact is that we get drawn to fatty, sweet and salty food more than ‘healthier food’. This has been theorised as an evolutionary mechanism meant to help us survive in the wild. Out in the wilderness, there is little energy dense food, or food that’s high in natural salt content and thus our minds and body are naturally drawn towards them, ensuring our survival as food is hard to come by in those days. However this mechanism is still in effect but instead of helping us survive, in a developed country that is filled with an abundance of easy to get food, it is making us eat more than we really should.

So what can we do about it?

Firstly love and respect your body for what it is.

It will be the one and only greatest instrument that you’re going to have and for all the amazing things it has done for you, please take some time each week to properly look after it.

There will always be the media which goes on about how men or women should look like with all those glamorous movies, TV shows and photo shots, but if you’ve come to realised like how I did (after joining them for a very brief period when I was younger), lighting, makeup and Photoshop does amazing things. So turn away from what they want you to think and open your eyes to see it as it is, you don’t see things like on the TV everyday around you do you? (I also just recently bought a photography magazine as I’m looking to buy my first DSLR, and saw all the crazy things that you can do with Photoshop now days. I think photography with Photoshop doesn’t make sense anymore, but then again I’m the kind of person who likes to see the world just as the way it is and through the imperfections and blemishes, the truth and reality which is even more amazing.)

Eat your breakfast.

Research has shown that for someone who ate breakfast, when it came to lunchtime, had less parts of his brains firing when shown with fatty and sweet food as compared to the same person having not eaten breakfast. Plan your meals out and don’t wait till you’re starving before you find food. Chances are if you do, you’ll unknowingly pick the least healthy option of the lot.

Have a concept of calories.

You don’t have to count calories or weigh everything you eat (I do that once in a while to make sure I’m eating enough and not losing weight), but you just need to have a basic concept of how much you actually should be eating. An average low active female needs 2000 kcal a day and an average low active male would 2500 kcal a day (very, very, rough estimates. Need to take into account existing height, weight and activity levels of each individual for a better estimate).

Why is this important? Well let’s say you’re over eating, but just slightly. So for the sake of argument let’s say you already have what your body needs for that day and you’ve decided that you’re going to treat yourself to an ice cream dessert. An ice cream desert (1/2 cup serving, about 125 grams estimated) would give 250 kcals (I used Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey Original Ice Cream). And say this amount of energy gets stored as fats (1g of fats stores about 9kcal) and assuming there is a 100% conversion rate from ice cream to fats in your body (which of course is not true, but just stay with me for the sake of the example), you will gain about 28 grams of fat. Let’s say you have that once a week, 52 weeks a year, and 5 years down the road lo and behold, you’ve gained about 7.3kg (28x52x5=7280). That my friend, is called weight creep.

So what can we do about it? Well having an active lifestyle not only increases the amount of calories burnt daily whilst doing the exercise but also leaves your body in an elevated metabolic state for the rest of the day, thus a little exercise each day really does go a long way. Secondly, treasure your calories, if you can only have that much calories to consume, then doesn’t it make more sense to cook and eat the best foods you can get so that you do not waste any on mediocrity? If you’re going to treat yourself to an ice cream once in a while (which is perfectly fine and I do that from time to time too), aren’t you going to make sure that you’re eating the best damn ice cream you can find and take your time to savour the taste of it rather than gobbling it down in a hurry?

Thus I’ll end this entry here, and hope that you had gained a little useful information from my little post. And if you don’t remember anything else, remember that an active balanced lifestyle and diet is the key.

I will continue to write some more stuff about health and fitness in this series I call ‘Views of a Sports Science Student’, and if there’s any other Sports Science students or professionals which do not agree with my line of thinking please feel free to correct or debate with me regarding this. Physiological data is referred from the book Exercise Physiology: Theory and Application to Fitness and Performance, by Powers and Howley, 7th Edition.

Enjoy your body and life! At the infinity pool with Lance Tan (SG national team, quater miler specialist) at MBS, 2010.

p.s. I will be competing in my first competition of 2011 tomorrow, Loughborough Indoor Open Meeting, doing the 60m dash and throwing the shot put. Well excited cause I’ve just came off an ankle injury (Achilles tendon kinda separated slightly from the bone) and am anxious to see what state I am in. Will keep you guys updated on how it goes!

Comments

  1. f*cking awesome work bro.

  2. Great post! 🙂 Thank you!! 😀

  3. HAHA this is great help rlly

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