Skin Deco

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Getting Fit: Diet Planning

That’s a somewhat typical Malaysian diet. That's a total of 3600 calories.

It took me awhile to realize that to lose weight, what I need to do is not go on a diet.
I need to change the way I eat.
Dieting is short term and so are the results. Changing your eating habits goes a much longer way.

Check out how you can start making changes to your diet.

The first thing you need to understand is that eating to lose weight actually involves eating and NEVER starving. That’s one of the most common methods used. Be it skipping meals or wearing corsets to avoid overeating.

The following are just some of the simple changes you can start making to kick start a healthier diet:
  • Reduce sugar, salt and refined carbohydrates
  • Choose healthier cooking alternatives eg. Baked vs fried
  • Consume more fruits and vegetables
  • Minimize unhealthy snacking
  • Eat consciously, slowly and stop when full
  • Avoid eating late at night

"One of the biggest mistakes people make is to eat late at night. This will store as fat in the body overnight and is actually an effective way of gaining weight." -- Jeremy, C25

Those were the changes that I started making early on this weight loss journey. While my weight reduced, my progress wasn’t as drastic as I had hoped. That’s when I decided to take my diet change to the next level.

Now, let’s move on to how you can plan your new diet to see better results on your weight loss:

How Much to Eat

Food contains calories which gives you energy to conduct your daily activities. If you consume more calories than you burn, you will put on weight. If you consume less calories than you burn, you will lose weight. Have a go at this calculator to determine how much calories you should consume to achieve your desired weight. The amount is dependent on the weight loss duration, your current weight, height and activity.

Ideally, you should not go below 1200 calories a day and that’s where I keep my daily intake at.

"Write down what you consume in a day, both food and drink, snacks and all. Even that cup of milo you had in the middle of the afternoon." -- Jeremy, C25

Counting calories can be tedious. Although I’m not obsessed with calorie-counting, I monitor what I eat so that I can estimate how much I’m actually eating in a day as well as determine which kind of food is contributing most to the calories I’ve consumed.
I use an app called My Fitness Pal for this purpose. It has a huge database of foods (including local foods) and you can sync it to the website.

What to Eat 

Sometimes we can’t tell from the amount and how full we feel. For instance, one would think that a handful of cashew nuts is a little snack but the calories are equivalent to a bowl of rice or 6 apples. For a small packet of McDonald’s fries I can have a filling meal of pasta with beef and vegetables.

Eating to lose weight does NOT mean NOT eating. Never let yourself go hungry. There are endless types of food out there and it’s up to your creativity how you want to have them.

 This is generally what I look out for when choosing my food:
  • High in fiber and nutrients: eg. Leafy greens, onion, bell peppers 
  • Low in fat, sugar and sodium (if I can help it): Cut down on mayonnaise, cream, soft drinks 
  • High in protein: eg. Beef, fish, eggs 
  • Unrefined carbohydrates: eg. Brown rice, quinoa, millet, buckwheat 
  • Minimal amount of wheat, corn and dairy: Cut down on cookies/biscuits, wheat bread/noodles, cheese 
 This is an example of my daily meal at 1200 calories:

When it’s within my control, I make my own breakfast, lunch and sometimes dinner. When I’m out with friends or family, I eat like I’m not “on a diet”. I’ll still have my beer and eat cheesecake yet I know I’ll be fine because on normal days, I eat healthy and exercise.

When to Eat 

"Spread your daily intake into 5 small meals per day. Eating 2 or 3 meals per day will only starve your body for 5 or 6 hours and it’ll store fat to cope." -- Jeremy, C25

Many “dieters” don’t eat enough. Once again, NEVER starve yourself!
People look at my food thinking that I’m not eating enough and that I’m letting myself go hungry, which couldn’t be further than the truth.
The key is to eat frequently in smaller portions as well as eating quality food so that you feel fuller and more satisfied throughout the day.

If you have any questions for Jeremy regarding fitness or diet, please don't hesitate to ask them in the comment section below.


~ SueHarriz ~ said...

darling, i was at my heaviest (66kg, my weight after delivery) by may 2011. then I started dieting and working out, and now Im a steady 54kg ( my weight before marriage). I limited my food intake to 1200 calories a day, and yep, I was never hungry. the misconception about dieting is dat many say ppl on diet are always hungry, which sooo not true! munching almonds between meals really DOES help A LOT, plus, it makes my skin look naturally dewy. i hope u'll achieve ur goal, good luck darling!

Lynne said...

I love this series you are running - because I began to realise how my unhealthy dietary habits and sedentary lifestyle was impacting my health as well as my appearance. I'm in total agreement about calorie counting, while it can be a little tedious at times (like you, I estimate), I think it serves as a really effective reminder to not consume empty calories or overeat. With just restricting calories to between 1100-1200 and light-moderate (depending on my schedule) exercise, I've managed to lose about 15kg in about 6 months. Will probably aim to lose another 3 more before starting on maintenance. Btw, what do you/Jeremy think about the zigzag diet? (ie consuming a bit more calories on certain days to rev up your metabolism)My friend recently told me about it but I'm not sure what to make of it.

beetrice said...

awesome tips Connie, and *gulp*, I'm definitely going to have to revamp my eating habits. I try to eat more protein because I have difficulty digesting carbs, yet can't seem to drag myself away from fries and curry-drowned rice. :( loving this series though, it's awesome motivation and makes this effort easier!

siewlingchaw said...

hi written above: "One of the biggest mistakes people make is to eat late at night. This will store as fat in the body overnight and is actually an effective way of gaining weight." -- Jeremy, C25. How late is late ?

Kim said...

Nicely written Connie. You make "dieting" sounds easier and reasonable than I thought. Keep up with the good work!

Jenn said...

Pasta is my kryptonite - sooo comforting but it makes me balloon like crazy because i can eat ALOT OF PASTA =X

I'm loving this series of yours - it keeps me motivated! Keep up the good work! :D

Connie De Alwis said...

SueHarriz: Good on ya for losing that baby weight! Glad to have a testimonial of how good eating habits and exercise work :)

Jeremy's Reply:
"Well zig zag dieting is popular with some people particularly those who plateau, and often bodybuilders. By following a low calorie intake for a few days followed by a higher calorie intake tricks your metabolism so it cannot anticipate how many calories are coming and so remains high. It sounds like you're well on top of your eating habits and have done extremely well to lose so much weight. If you only have a few more kg's to go I'd keep to the same method as its obviously working."

Keep up the good work! I've never heard of the zig zag diet but I'm certainly relieved to know that my occasional binging isn't doing damage but good :)

Connie De Alwis said...

Jeremy's Reply:
"That's good that you eat less carbs, however you really need to change your mind set regarding the fries and curry-drowned rice. Replace them with alternative healthier options that you like so it doesn't seem like a chore."

I just had banana leaf rice last week! Well, as I've mentioned in the post, I eat healthy as well as exercise regularly so 1 or 2 days of unhealthy/fattening food doesn't bug me. However, for the unhealthy stuff that I used to have daily (eg. cookies, Milo), I cut them out completely and replace them with healthier options.

Jeremy's Reply:
"Try not to eat after 8pm. If your dinner is later than this occasionally, try to make it a salad or something light. Definitely avoid fattening snacks before bed."

Personally, having dinner before 8 is a bigger challenge to me than exercising 4 times a week. To not make conditions worse, for dinner I'd eat a lighter meal such as soup and veggies rather than have loads of rice or noodles.

Connie De Alwis said...

Kim: Thanks! :) I'm having loads of fun with my new way of eating. I'm trying out all sorts of new foods and recipes. "Dieting" is actually very reasonable and it's so much more than just chewing on lettuce whole day long.

Jenn: I love pasta too! Perhaps you can try different types of pasta eg. whole wheat, brown rice. I'm currently trying Buckwheat pasta and it's pretty good! Glad you like the series and thanks for the kind wishes :)

xin said...

the extra calories from beer and cheesecake is definitely one of the reasons that keep us going. go go connie!

siewlingchaw said...

hi may i know is it a must to consume soup while taking dinner or take it together ? and what kind of food can we consume to speed up muscle recovery other else than whey protein ? :(

Connie De Alwis said...

Xin: yup, eating healthy and regularly means that I can enjoy "sinful" foods with no guilt once in awhile

Connie De Alwis said...

Here's Jeremy's reply:
"Other than protein, consume carbohydrates as soon as possible after a workout to restore glycogen levels in muscles. Protein sports drinks often contain enough carbs and protein to supply adequate levels to the body. Hydration is also an important factor to muscle recovery so remember to drink water during and after a workout.

Soups can be healthy if they are made with natural ingredients. Canned soups are often too high in salt and have too many preservatives. Miso soup is pretty high in fat."

I personally make my soup out of fresh seasonal vegetables. It's not a diet must or anything. I just enjoy soup plus I can store it for several meals.

siewlingchaw said...

Oh i see.hmm,then if lets say i don't want to take any protein shakes or sports drinks ? what other natural food can i take to help in speedy muscle recovery ? :)

siewlingchaw said...

Oh i seee.hmm then is it better to take soups before eating dinner or ? :/

Connie De Alwis said...

siewlingchaw: I currently don't take any protein sports drinks so what I'd usually have after a workout would be a banana. You can also try yogurt, oatmeal, eggs, toast, etc.

Eat your soup whenever you want to (as long as it's not late at night). I don't think it matters if you take soup before or after dinner. Soup's simply a part of my meal as a side dish because I like soup.

Joanne Ng said...

OH my! The typical Malaysian diet is really scary.

I used to be 79kg. I definitely agree with all your tips. First thing to start cutting out, is really the extra calories. Just by consuming the correct calories, 1500 -1800kcal for ladies, the weight will start to go off in 4 weeks. I was eating 3000kcal or more last time too.

Connie De Alwis said...

Joanne Ng: It's very scary indeed! And it's not really how much we eat but what we eat. Our diet is getting more and more unhealthy and the sad thing is, unhealthy food comes cheap.

I'm very glad that you're on the right track now! I may be eating less calories now but I'm never hungry. Just choose to eat quality food instead :)

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Thanks a bunch!

<3 Connie

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