Sunday, March 5, 2017

Shortest (ever!) Guide to Weight-loss

My Name's Edmund Khong and I am 36. (My profile: http://stardazzleconcepts.com/profile.html)

Here's me in 2014; at my heaviest at 94.4 Kg, attending the World Clown Convention:







This is me, today:




It took me 6 months to lose my first 20 Kg. From 94 Kg to 74 Kg. I currently hold a Personal Trainer Certification from the American Council on Exercise.

I've also helped my wife lose 12 Kg. I am currently at around 68 Kg.

My philosophy on weight-loss is very easy to understand:

K.I.S.S. = Keep It Simple + Sustainable.



Let's first talk about the benefits of not carrying excessive, useless weight:
  • Physically and Mentally, You'll feel much stronger. You'll have more endurance, energy and more confidence.
  • You are much less susceptible to sickness and diseases.
  • You'll sleep better

What's there not to like about having an lower body fat percentage?!

"80% of weight-loss is in what you eat and 20% is in what you do (exercise)"

If you eat less calories then what you use on a daily basis, you will lose weight because your body will use the fat reserves. This is known as a caloric-deficit diet. It's not rocket science.

For most Singaporeans, we are consuming too much fat and High G.I. food, resulting in the over-consumption of calories. What is G.I.?

Here: https://www.acefitness.org/acefit/fitness-fact-article/3574/what-is-a-glycemic-index/

I highly recommend using this easy tool from the Health Promotion Board to ensure that you are getting sufficient nutrition: https://www.healthhub.sg/programmes/55/my-healthy-plate

The concept is simple: If your body is getting sufficient nutrients, it won't crave unhealthy foods and thereby reducing the calorie intake.

I'll just highlight 3 key points:
  •     Half the plate to be filled with vegetables and fruits
  •     Ensure you eat sufficient protein
  •     Whole grains > processed carbohydrates (high G.I.) such as white rice, noodles and refined flour.
Lastly, when it comes to food, as a rule of thumb, the less processed the food is, the better it is.

Simple examples:
  •     Real meat > canned luncheon meat/sausages
  •     Real fish > fishballs
  •     Real chicken > chicken nuggets
  •     Full cream milk > low or non-fat milk
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 Let's talk about the "20%" now: "Exercise"

The human body is designed to move, work, grow and adapt. The more you do a certain exercise or a movement, your body becomes better and better at it. We do not even need to concentrate or focus to walk, talk or eat. That's because we carry out these actions so often everyday. Our body is a classic "Use it or Lose it!" device.

My advice when it comes to exercise for beginners is very simple:

"Do whatever exercise you like. Just get moving."


Don't buy into the latest exercise fad or buy a gym membership that you may only use once a month.

Everyone should engage in a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity per week.

I highly recommend reading this: https://www.acefitness.org/acefit/fitness-fact-article/3585/how-to-start-an-exercise-program/

Remember: K.I.S.S. = Keep It Simple + Sustainable.

To Conclude:


Consistency will always eventually bring you closer to a healthier weight and a healthier you. If you are losing 1 to 2 pounds a week, you are doing an awesome job!

I wish you all the very best in your weight-loss journey! Health is Wealth!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

My Weight-Loss Journey: The secret techniques (part 3)

2. The Exercise (part 3)
3. Supplementation: Is it needed at all? (part 3)

The Exercise

Firstly, the BAD news: you know that a caloric-deficit diet will result in weight-loss; it's just simple math. But did you know that you'll need to do a LOT of exercise in order to burn off a substantial amount of calories. (I am presuming you don't do much exercise because you don't like it!)

See how much calories each type of exercise burns: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/exercise/art-20050999?pg=2

As I have already mentioned, it's easier to simply eat less calories - we live in a world that requires too much of our time and attention - no one can spend 3 hour exercising every day.


My approach to exercise:

1. Engage in exercises/sport activities that you actually enjoy.

A weight-loss journey is not a sprint; it's a long marathon. Make exercise a enjoyable part of your life. The human body was designed to move, jump, run, hunt and carry weight.

Swim, run, cycle, Pilates, zumba, Crossfit, lift weights, whatever.

I fell in love with free weights training. There are huge advantages in free weight training for men trying to lose weight. For ladies, I also suggest highly suggest free weights training. I won't go into the details why free weights training is the BEST vehicle for weight loss because that will make this article too long; you can find out more for yourself or ask me.

2. Form, Form, FORM! (Injury prevention)

I cannot stress this enough. Regardless of which exercise you have chosen, you need to do those exercises correctly. A lot of people are biking/running incorrectly. The same applies to equipment: bike height/shoes/clothing, etc.

Using the gym? You must read this: Why_is_Proper_Form_so_Important_When_Working_Out.html

The last thing you want is to get injured. Because no one likes pain and it stalls your weight-loss journey. It affects your mind and morale too. I know. I have been there.

For anyone who wants to use weights training to lose weight (I highly recommend it), ensure you learn how to do each exercise correctly. Read, watch YouTube tutorials, find out the latest research on these weight lifting exercises. Hire a professional Personal Trainer. Don't get injured.

Take special care of your joints. Muscle soreness (from any exercise) is to be expected, muscles heal fairly fast but joints/connective tissues/bones/spine don't. Which leads to my next section: is Supplementation needed at all for weight loss?

 3. Supplementation: Is it needed at all?

Firstly, I am not endorsing any product. But I do want to mention what some of the available supplements are, so that you can do your own research on them.

Secondly, Supplements are..... supplements. :) they are not magic pills or powders that will make your fats disappear. You will make fats disappear. The supplements can only help a little bit. That simply means that you will need to ensure that your diet is made of the best foods you can buy and that you get your nutrients from real foods and not pills/protein/magic powders.

If you think you don't need or don't wish to use supplements, don't use it.

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There are a few approaches that weight-loss supplements take: appetite suppression, caffeine, thermogenic. They might work for you in the short term, but just like 'weight-loss diets', if you stop taking them, you might gain back all the weight and any doctor will tell you: being on weight-loss pills for a very long time is NOT good for your health.


Joint supplements: I personally recommend this. Regardless of which exercise you will employ, your joints will move more, creating wear and tear.

Protein powder: If you are using heavy weights (doing them correctly!) and can't eat 6 servings of meat a day, protein powders can help. Protein/Amino acids can help the repair of muscles, resulting in you healing faster, that might translate to more frequent workouts, if you can afford the time. Faster muscle growth can result in more efficient weight-loss. But do note that these powders do contain calories and fats. If you don't want to look too 'bulky', you don't need protein powders. Muscle bulk does not equate strength. Check your goals.

(Guys: never buy 'mass-gainers' powders, we are trying to lose weight here!)

Multivitamins? Not a bad idea. When you start doing exercises, your body sucks up nutrients like a sponge and sometimes you do miss out on some nutrients from your meals. Multivitamins can help in this aspect.

There are a few issues that bothers me about the supplement industry but I'll just mention one. Look, I have no issues with anyone who wants to use steroids. More power to him/her. But if a company uses a steroid-using model to sell a product and it gives the consumers the impression that if you use the product, you'll end up looking like the model, I have issues with that. Regardless of whether it's a weight-loss/bodybuilding/vitamin product.

Important Closing

Life is about living to the fullest. Don't be obsessed about achieving a certain look/body shape. Take control of your body and mind. Be confident about your transformation and weight-loss, regardless of where you might be. Look, at least you are a better version of yourself today as compared to last week or the week before. That's why this blog has "lovelife" in the title/URL.

And YES, I have 'cheat' meals too! Sometimes, even for an entire day! :)

Learn more about cheat meals: http://www.livestrong.com/article/542505-the-art-and-science-of-cheat-meals/

If you are losing 1 - 2 pounds of fat (NOT WATER) a week, you are doing very well.

I wish you all the best in your weight-loss journey; I am still learning just as you are. I hope this article is useful to you. Share it with your friends who might benefit from this. I would love to help too.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

My Weight-Loss Journey: The secret techniques (part 2)

The Diet (Part 2)


Let's start with the most basic concept:

"If you eat less calories then what you use on a daily basis, you will lose weight because fats (stored energy reserves within your body) will be utilized."

This is known as a caloric-deficit diet. The most obvious deduction therefore is to: exercise like crazy (burn energy) and starve myself.

However, this won't work. Because your body is never designed this way. Your body needs a lot of nutrients for healthy living. Yes, you will lose weight but you won't look good, your brain slows down, your muscles weaken and your body looks gaunt.

I am going to say this straight: Any diet plan that suggests deprivation of nutrients (i.e. starvation) in just bullsh*t.

(New Notes: Your natural body will tell your brain to eat when it's being deprived of nutrients. You must then feed the body with good nutritious food. When you feed it with trash food with little nutritional content, you will feel hungry again very soon - this vicious cycle will simply make you eat more useless calories!)

The next concept is very key: Not all calories are created equal. An example: a plate of 10 donuts may have the same number of calories as a plate consisting of a steak, potatoes and fresh veggies, but the amount of nutrients you are getting from that plate of donuts is negligible as compared to that balanced steak set meal.

Your body is not a rubbish bin; stop putting rubbish into it.

I'll have to talk about "Satiety" now:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hunger_%28motivational_state%29

In short, it's the reverse of hunger. If we eat less and exercise/move more, we will lose weight. Therefore, it makes sense to eat nutritious foods that makes us feel full.

I'll get straight to the point. For the weight-loss phrase, I eat a high protein, few carbs and few fats diet. I eat from real and natural sources and not processed/manufactured foods. It's important to take note of that because 99.9% of processed foods are inferior to their original sources.

(New Notes: I am now in the maintenance phrase, which means that I am trying to keep my weight stable now that I am satisfied with the weight. I still ensure I eat a lot of protein but I also eat GOOD carbs now so that I have energy for heavy-duty exercise at the gym. If you do not need so much energy, i.e. you don't exercise a lot, you don't need so much carbs)

I eat anytime I want. I never allow myself to go hungry. Sounds good, yes? :)

A high protein diet creates satiety. Protein repairs muscles too. That sounds like a win-win plan for guys who are going to use weights training as the exercise vehicle. Likewise for guys/ladies who do crossfit/body weight exercises, you'll need the protein to repair the broken-down muscle tissues every time you exercise.

Before I go on, a reminder: some of my ideas will be controversial, but they are not new. Some of you might have heard that a high protein diet ruins kidneys, but there is no conclusive proof. Neither is there conclusive proof that a vegan or organic diet will 100% give you a better/longer lifespan. 

Check out the online vids/articles on Atkins, Paleo diet. I am not a huge fan of a ketogenic diet (using fats as fuel instead of carbs) - because I am using weights training as a vehicle and I need carbs - but a ketogenic diet could be great for weight loss. Always educate yourself and be opened to new knowledge. 

Processed Sugars: I try to cut that out completely. You can do your own research on it. The processed foods at our supermarkets contain far too much of it. Yes, I still do take sugar with my coffee and soy milk - I am not that crazy to drink black coffee and sugarless soy. America's obesity epidemic is caused by sugar, not fats. If you simply cut as much sugar as you can from your diet, I assure you: you will see significant weight-loss. That includes cutting off consumption of all forms of processed liquids. (Just drink Water!)

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/mar/20/sugar-deadly-obesity-epidemic

At this point, you might realize that the journey does not look easy and it's going to get harder. :)

Related to carbs/sugar, I also try to cut off any wheat/processed flour from my diet. In short, anything made from wheat/flour gets digested very fast, creates a sugar-high spike and but that crashes as soon as the sugar gets depleted, causing you to eat more! That obviously adds more calories to your daily intake. What you'll want to eat are complex carbs: rhizomes of different colors, brown rice, beans, etc. These take a lot of energy to burn (that's good!) and they burn slowly, preventing sugar spikes, allowing a desirable sustained and slow release of energy that creates satiety at the same time. 
Yes, that means a lot of commercially available foods must be eliminated from your diet if you are serious about losing weight. I'll just list some of the obvious ones: bread, noodles, cake and pastries.

There are a lot of YouTube documentaries about insulin resistance, the obesity epidemic and the causes of it. Watch with an open mind because most/all media has an agenda.

What I eat/do to my food:

1. A large variety of foods. My theory on why the Japanese people are slimmer as compared to the rest of the world is because their (traditional) meals consist of many many many SMALL portions of different type of food/TASTES and color. All these different aspects combine to create satiety and a nutritious diet. They also do not over-cook their food. It's a common fact that over-cooking depletes food of nutrients.

2. A lot of protein: salmon, beef, eggs, nuts, milk, soy, beans, chicken, etc

3. If you intensely want to lose the weight fast, cut down on the oil/fats during the cooking/eating process. The fats that you'll need for a healthy life; there's plenty of it that already exist in the food: eggs, meat, milk, nuts, soy, etc. Did I mention cooking process? Yes, try to cook your own food as much as possible. Invest in a quality non-stick pan and you virtually do not have to add oil to your food. I cook my salmon first; some of oil comes out, use that oil for mushrooms/vegetables/chicken/eggs. Any oil that you use in your food goes straight into fat storage in your body. But do note that the body NEEDS good fats/oils (like omega-3, etc).

Important: Steer clear of almost all sauces/gravy in your food. They usually contain a high amount of fats and sugar.

4. A lot of water (+ soup), vegetables and fruits. Some crazy people will tell you to reduce the intake of fruits because they contain a lot of sugar. Meh. I'll say eat as much fruit as you want because they are nutritious, fill you up and they give you fiber and water. HOWEVER, just as not all calories are equal, not all fruits are equal. Fruits like apples, kiwi, bananas >  durian and jack fruit, which are comparatively high in sugar.

5. Read labels. Not all processed foods are not good. Regular milk, soy milk, canned tuna in water, oats are extremely nutritious food that are canned/bottled.

6. Eliminate processed food from the diet. If I want to eat potatoes, I eat potatoes, I don't buy potato chips or french fries. If I want to eat fish, I buy fish, I don't buy fish balls or fish cakes. I eat real chicken; not chicken nuggets. You get the idea.

The Sad Reality:

It's very hard to find healthy food when you are out of the house. Most of the supermarket/food court/cheap/street food are not healthy or help with weight-loss. That's a very scary fact. There are known nutritionists who advocate that we should eat what our grandparents ate when they were young. A LOT of foods that we eat today on a daily basis were NOT invented then (including sliced bread!)

Read more: http://www.trueactivist.com/what-can-we-learn-from-how-grandma-and-grandpa-used-to-eat/

I live in Singapore and I was watching a documentary about Singapore with footage of the 70s and 80s and it's very evident that the peoples' waistlines has increased significantly. Singapore's example is not unique. As nations become more affluent, with the influx of fast food and 'tastier' supermarket processed foods, the population gets fatter and fatter.

Conclusion?

Changing your diet will have to be a life-long commitment. Unfortunately, commercialism will always try to steer people off the healthy food course. It will have to be a decision you'll have to make for yourself. There are delicious food out there; you'll have to find it or cook it yourself. There are a lot of helpful chefs/home cooks/nutritionists out there who publishes healthy recipes online and in print.

I wish you the best! I'll try to help out too! Ask me your questions; I am still learning too, but I like to help. Next topic: The Exercise (Part 3)!

Monday, June 15, 2015

My Weight-Loss Journey: The secret techniques (part 1)


Intro! 

(Important note (Feb 2017) : This series was written some time ago and I have since gained new insights after studying and obtaining a Personal Trainer certification from the American Council on Exercise. I'll might eventually update this article. This is just a note that to readers that the info in this article do not totally reflect my current approach or thoughts.) 

Firstly, the figures. I started out at 94 kg in Feb 2015. By June 2015, I have lost 20 kg (74 Kg). By Aug 2015, I reached 68 kg, I think I was too scrawny and I added more muscle bulk and I am now at 70 kg (Dec 2015). It's not just the 'weight' I've lost: I actually lost fats and gained muscle, putting my body fat ratio (the percentage of fats in my body) at a much better level than when I had just started.

I have also helped my wife lose 10 kg of unhealthy weight.

Secondly, this is simply my story; and I am sharing it with you. Because it's works and I do want to share this with my friends so that they too can benefit from this. Which means I am not going into pointless Internet arguments and bashing: if you don't agree with me, you don't have to follow me/use my information. :)

I can probably make a lot of money from this information but I am not going to do so. 

This article is basically an introduction and Part 1.

The Basics

1. The Diet (part 2)
2. The Exercise (part 3)
3. Supplementation: Is it needed at all? (part 3)

Before I discuss further, I'll like to touch on some philosophical points on losing weight. Firstly, if you expect changes in your body size/wight, then you must expect...... changes in your diet and exercise.

I am sure you have heard of yo-yo dieting. You get on a 'new' fab diet plan (Grapefruit, Cleanse, De-tox, whatever-they-call-it-now), you lose weight but as soon as you get off the 'diet' the fats/weight come on back on...

Of course it does. It makes sense, doesn't it?

If you want to lose weight AND keep it off, it will take a LIFESTYLE change and your relationship with food will change forever.

Before I embarked on my weight-loss journey, I had set a few goals:
  • I want a healthy weight-loss journey and hence I am not going to starve myself.
  • The ultimate goal is a healthier body and hence I shouldn't be feeling weak or have a low immune system.
  • I was going to commit myself to maintaining the weight-loss forever, which means the diet plan has to be sustainable and realistic.
  • I want to make the process as enjoyable as possible, the food has to taste GOOD! :)
I heard this quote before and it's true and hence I am sharing it here:

"70% of weight-loss is in the Kitchen and 30% is in the gym"

Therefore, one can truly lose weight (albeit slowly) if one simply has a good and sensible diet. However, it does not mean that the said person is healthy or strong. To be healthy and strong (in all aspects of cardiovascular/organ/tissue/joint health), one needs exercise.

If you are ready, let's tackle the most important aspect of any weight-loss journey: The Diet.