LIKE countless post-holiday revelers, I’m currently waging an uphill battle to zap unwanted pounds, especially around the tummy area, to fit into my old clothes. All that fiesta ham, potato salad, rum cake and champagne have to go somewhere. Alas, they didn’t go to where I need the nutrients most: my thinning head of hair!
I’ve been regularly going to the gym for more than a decade now, but it seems my routine consisting of 30 to 40 minutes on the treadmill and another 30 minutes toning various muscles groups with light to moderately heavy weights isn’t working anymore. This time, I need to be more proactive by watching what goes into my mouth.
Since I’m not a great fan of dieting, I’ve never subscribed to any kind of diet program for long. In my book, there are no evil food groups, just evil (read: humongous) portions. Like my idol, former Inquirer fitness columnist Tina Juan, my approach to weight loss is simple: eat less and exercise more.
And since eating less is almost next to impossible in a stressful job that requires you to regularly attend food-laden “events” in between deadlines, I’ve resorted instead to spending hours at the gym even when I’m abroad. Jogging outdoors or engaging in team sports is out of the question. Rather than risk endangering myself and countless others, a klutz like me is better off staying indoors.
My primary motivation was and always will be vanity. It may sound shallow, but I always get a kick out of my ability to slip into ready-to-wear clothes meant for the long, lean twenty-something.
And since my health seems to be also reaping the benefits of my regular gym visits, I have no reason to complain. Although my bad cholesterol tends to shoot up if left unchecked, my blood pressure and blood sugar could probably put a man half my age to shame.
But time (read: a slowing metabolism due to age) seems to have caught up with me. My weight gain began long before radio stations started playing Christmas carols in September. The holiday binging further sealed the deal, so to speak.
And to think I only attended a handful of parties, including the small get-togethers we threw at home for friends and relatives, because not too many companies and individuals were in a partying mood a month or so after Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (“Haiyan”) devastated the country. But unused calories have a sneaky way of adding up.
If I go by how tight and ill fitting a good number of my clothes have become, the old routine no longer works. More than the weighing scale, which could give you fluctuating results based on the time of day as well as your fluid intake (lean muscle is heavier than ugly, flabby fat), the best gauge to know if your gaining weight is to simply slip into an old pair of jeans. As far as accuracy goes, tight is always right.
My wake up call came in the form of a group picture taken during a Western-themed party at my friend’s house a few days before the New Year.
Since I know I was already verging on the heavy side, I made sure to wear Spanx to keep those lumps and bulges at bay. Still, my protruding tummy managed to make a surprise appearance during an unguarded moment.
It must be all that rice, Kare-Kare, Relyenong Bangus and Dinuguan trying to make their presence felt. I wasn’t amused.
Much as I hate to subscribe to it, I think I need to go on a low-carb diet to get back in shape. Jumpstarting my fitness routine by cutting down on carbs, the fuel that drives all of us, seems like an oxymoron.
(Even if you think you’re healthy, it’s a must, especially if you’re already in your 30s, that you see a doctor before starting on any kind of fitness program for the first time.)
Once you go on a low-carb diet, you have to eat less while eating more. Yes, that’s right. In order to maintain your energy level throughout the day, you have to eat smaller portions more frequently. Instead of eating three square meals, for instance, you go for six smaller portions spread out from morning to night.
Yes, it could be cumbersome, especially for people on the go, but, as far as I’m concerned, the results, combined with sensible exercise at least three to four times a week, are worth it.
Provided you’re healthy and your metabolism is normal, you would start looking less flabby within a week. And if done with dedication, you’d start looking leaner and more toned before the month is over. Results would depend on what your goals are, but the immediate rewards include being able to slip into your favorite rags, which you had almost given up for good, with ease.
How do I know? I’ve done it before, a little over a decade ago, and it worked. More than just a low-carb diet, it was an approach to food anchored on supposedly sensible portion control. The only problem was I seemed to have overdone it, as not a few of my friends thought I was sick.
This time, I believe I know better. No crash dieting for me. Just portion control and light to moderate exercise to slowly shed off those unwanted pounds.
It would be a tall order, as my girlfriends and I from the office are going on a post New Year’s dinner tonight. I will be having dinner with another set of girlfriends next week. But for vanity’s sake, I have to prevail. Wish me luck.