On “Getting Lean!”
My old martial arts arts instructor (“old” as in I don’t train anymore, not “old” as in crotchety with a white beard) Sifu Joey de Los Reyes from the Kombat Arts academy in Mississauga wrote up a very simple, common sense blog on how to get lean. It has some good tips, check it out.
I’ve dropped a bit of weight recently and some people have asked me how, so I thought I would expand on some of the things he’s written. The world of healthly eating and exercise has changed a lot since the last time I did a push-up due to more knowledge and expanding horizons — occasionally, hopefully, I’ll be blogging my way through this process of re-learning everthing I knew.
But for the most part, here’s why I am almost 10 pounds lighter nowadays:
Experiment with either eating a lot of small meals throughout the day, or try the Warrior Diet; fast throughout the day and eat a lot in one sitting at night time (I know this is a weird one, but do your own research!)
That Warrior Diet sounds kind of horrible, but yeah, I’ve been doing a lot of the former: grazing throughout the day. Basically, I eat a bit to prevent hunger, not eat a lot to make it go away. I eat something every two hours or so: meal, snack, meal, snack, snack, meal, snack, or whatever, depending on the day’s schedule. Meals are smaller as a result. Snacks are usually a piece of fruit, a smoothie, a handful of almonds, or if I’m particularly needing some energy, a granola bar or whole grain toast with peanut butter or dipped in olive oil. This keeps me from overeating at mealtime, and also kills most of my harmful cravings. I find I don’t have sudden urges for ice cream because my stomach always has something in it. Also, it’s good on the pocket book. Now when I hit up Fresh or a pho joint I can be satisfied with the smaller bowl. If for some reason I find myself at a fast food place, I can easily forgo the fries. The hard part is making sure you always have something with you on commutes or when at events, and making sure you don’t zone out and forget to eat while doing work. When I started this, I would set a timer on my phone.
All this plays into another one of Sifu’s tips:
Prioritize. If there are any veggies in my meal, I usually eat them first. I took this from the Warrior Diet. One, I train my taste buds to actually appreciate raw food. Two, it sort of fills my stomach, leaving less space for bad stuff. Finally, I finally get some good ruffage, fiber, vitamins etc.
If I ignored the previous point, and I have to decide between carbs and veggies, and I’m beginning to get stuffed, I go for the veggies.
I’ve found that after awhile, your tastes will change. Last weekend I went for dim sum and found myself craving the Chinese broccoli and bok choy more than the shrimp dumplings. Who knew? And don’t get me started on brussell sprouts. Those things are delicious.
Drink a lot of water. Now this one is one that I am having a hard time with. But I cheat. I have a water bottle by my Blackberry on the counter. When I check my BB (which can be a lot) I HAVE to grab a swig of water.
This has taken some willpower, but yes, water is now my go-to drink for every meal. And I pair it with every snack. Most of the times when you think you are craving a snack, you are actually thirsty. Your brain has a hard time telling the difference. So if I’m getting the munchies, I have a glass first and see how I feel in 10 minutes. More often than not, I’m fine after that. That’s a whole lot of unnecessary calories avoided.
Balance. If I am not going to work out that day, I watch what I eat. If I am going to work out, well I treat myself
Paying the price. I like to eat, all manners of food. Including fast food. If I choose to indulge, I make a conscious effort to clean up my diet for the next few days and work my butt off in the gym.
AMEN. You don’t have to be some ascetic monk. I will always love large dinners at family gatherings or long meal sessions over conversation with friends. The idea is to recognize how often you do this, and adjust accordingly. Don’t deprive yourself; but don’t lie to yourself either.
In addition to starting a regular workout program, here are my own additional tips:
Make a hobby out of walking. I know you’ve heard tips like walk the extra bit to the next bus stop, or take the stairs instead of the escalator and so on, but that’s boring. I’ll go one further and say learn to love long aimless walks. They are the perfect supplement to a workout plan, an easy substitute for the days you are too run down to get in a decent workout, and also a good way to bring some silence into your life and get your brain to shut up (which, let’s be honest, it probably should). I especially enjoy this for listening to new music. Grab the ipod, pick an album, and walk. Unlike jogging, this is something I can do in winter; just suit up with the boots and all that and go. I prefer night walks to wind down the day; it’s not strenuous enough to amp me up on adrenaline and ruin my sleeping schedule, and I can sort my thoughts out and empty the mental trash that accumulates over the day so when I get home I’m ready for hibernation.
It’s also a good way to make your bad habits into something better. Do you end your day with a cigarette? Walk with that cigarette. Do you smoke weed? Get high and walk. I don’t know. But just do it. I won’t judge you.
Set superstitions. Like my Sifu was saying about placing a water bottle by his Blackberry, experiment with trying to trap yourself. If you have a chin-up bar set up at home, maybe make it a rule to do x number of pullups everytime you enter that room. I work from home, so this is easier for me. I use the books on my desk to do isometric shoulder exercises and presses while I’m reading long articles or wasting time on Youtube. See what works for you. If you get bored of it, come up with a new one.
The bottom line is, have fun trapping yourself with reasons to keep moving, and trick your stupid body into not wanting lots of crappy food. When you figure all that out, being healthier is much less of a mental battle. It’s kind of annoying how easy it is, once you get going.