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health

managing body weight

I lost 5 kg by dropping two bad eating habits and slightly modifying my exercise regime.

For once, I write about shedding bad eating habits and managing body weight. The usual travel and photography themes take a back-seat for the moment.

the story

long-term

My body weight has fluctuated quite a bit over the past 30+ years. From the limited (I use scales very irregularly) data I have, my long-term average is slightly north of 75 kg. This corresponds to a BMI of approximately 23.5. This puts me at the upper end of what is considered “normal” for a European male. During three periods I was clearly overweight (above 80 kg) and during one period, during which my weight dropped below 70kg, I think I was too slim.

2015 – early 2020

Despite exercising rather constantly and consistently (thanks to my Polar watches I have good data to proof that), I gradually put on weight over the past 5 years. Early 2020, I crossed the 80kg mark. In other words, the BMI was above 25, hence I was medically overweight. More subjectively, I noticed that some trousers got a little tight, my face looked round and a small belly started appearing. A few people in my social circle started teasing me as well. Hence, I decided it’s time to do start managing body weight a little more actively. In other words, buy a scale and loose some weight!

my body weight over the past 35 years!
my body weight fluctuates …

setting a sensible target

As long as I’m in the 75 kg body weight range, I “feel” OK. Once I hit the 73/72 range, I feel really really good about my body shape. Conversely, once I hit the upper 70-ies, I start feeling slightly uncomfortable and some of my wardrobe starts sending signals.

TARGET: get back to normal by summer 2020

an ambitious, meaningful, yet realistic undertaking

managing body weight – how?

Target setting was relatively straight forward. The next question was: how to get there? Many ways lead to Rome. If any of the well-known (Keto-Atkins-FDH-WW-etc) methods work for you, that is great. These methods are not for me.

  • I don’t want to follow any third party’s food regime
  • also not interested in spending money on any weight-loss “shakes” or “pills”
  • continue my balanced Euro-Levantine-Indo-East Asian diet
  • no plan to give up on the occasional indulgence into wine, pasta and cheese
  • not keen at all to consistently remind myself that “I’m on a diet”
solution, part I

I started by looking at my eating habits, hoping to discover some low hanging fruit to reduce energy intake. After some pondering, I singled out the following two “bad” habits:

  1. a regular late evening snack
  2. a reasonably regular afternoon coffee with a little snack whilst at work

Hence, I decided to stop those two habits and see how it would influence my weight. Over the course of about ten days, I succeeded to abandon those two habits and replace them with healthier and smaller alternatives or not even snacking at all. Lo and behold, the weight went down.

solution, part II

I’m exercising very regularly for quite a long time already. However, my exercise routine mainly consists of hiking/walking and bike riding followed by some leg-stretching. In other words, I don’t really look after the rest of my body. Occasional spurs into swimming, indoor rowing and weight training never really became a habit.

Mobility, flexibility and general body strength are key to maintain good health as shown by many studies. After pondering over a few options, I decided to revive my decades-old Yoga experience and started with a few simple, yet – at least in my case – highly effective exercises. Out of the myriad of online Yoga courses, I found this one (see below) to be the most efficient. The teacher practises a simple, yet elegant style, pays attention to the key details, total absence of any brimborium just add to the good vibes.. Highly recommended – see for yourself:

managing the challenge

Since I didn’t embark on a strict, prescriptive diet, I elegantly avoided challenges with regards to cravings, huger attacks and the lust for cheese, chocolate, red wine and other often ill-perceived “sins”.

managing the mental challenge: accepting volatility, as long as the general trend points downward!

I was cognisant that the weight loss will be a slow process, taking me a few months to reach “target”. There were frustrating moments, when, despite my discipline, the curve remained flat or even pointed upwards, but a few weeks into the process I realized that I need to live with these fluctuations and remain calm.

solution part III

Recently, I changed one more eating habit: about once a week, I replace lunch (meat/carbo/vegi/sauce) with a home-made smoothie. This third tool provides flexibility. In other words, if I indulge in an afternoon snack or a late evening supper, I can balance it with a lighter lunch to manager overall intake.

Here is the recipe:

healthy smoothie

Time needed: 5 minutes.

  1. mix

    half banana, an apple (or orange); 2 spoons home made un-sweetened yoghurt and a small scoop cereals (acai, etc at your liking)

  2. add

    0.5 dl of cold water (or milk)

  3. blend

    until the smoothie is as smooth as you like it

  4. enjoy

outcome

From late Feb 2020 to late June 2020, I lost roughly 5 kg. This is in line with my original goal of shedding about one kilogram per month.

outlook

I’m authoring this post at the end of June 2020. My current weight is 75.4kg. I aim at shedding another 1-2 kg to “land” in the 74 kg range. As long as I can maintain my routine, this appears achievable by middle of July 2020. Subsequently, if I can reduce a little further, that will be great, but not a must!

Stay tuned, will keep you posted.


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