by Ore Fakorede
A few layers of fat provides the body with insulation, but myriads are losing more to fat than they bargained for – no pun intended. Boyfriends have moved on to slimmer targets, husbands have cheated on their sweet, plump wives and chubby children have been bullied to death. More seriously, the presence of excess fat in the human body has been linked to hypertension, stroke, cardiac dysfunction and other life-threatening ailments. Although it isn’t always such a dire picture, a few (un)comfortable kilograms over the limit could well be a scary glimpse into an obese future. But before you take-off on an ill-conceived marathon or meal-skipping spree, here are a few image-saving pointers that could take you back to the sexy, svelte self of your pre-puberty years (ulcer not included).
1. Know the facts!
How overweight are you anyway? Don’t just do some wuru-wuru mental arithmetic, find out what your body mass index (BMI) is! In the simplest term, BMI is a measure of an adult’s weight in relation to height, and it is calculated metrically as weight (in kilograms) divided by height (in meters) squared. People with a BMI of 25.0 to 29.9 are considered overweight and people with a BMI of 30 or above are considered obese. An actual figure should give you a clear picture of how much trouble you’re in and how much work you’ll need to do to save yourself.
2. Set a reasonable goal!
Staring dreamily at photos of Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks when you look like Gabore Sidibe will not get you far. Be logical when setting goals. There’s really no miracle to becoming trim so don’t expect one. Decide well-ahead how much weight you want to lose and fix a deadline for the weight loss program. It’s like writing an exam- knowing that the clock is literally ticking will keep you driven and focused.
3. Cut your daily calorie intake!
You are what you eat. Read the fine print wherever nutritional information is provided, keeping an eye out for saturated fat, cholesterol and other undesirables. High-calorie foods like doughnuts, chocolate, ice cream and soft drinks need to go. Replace them with healthier options e.g. drink water instead of soft drinks, eat skinless chicken and fish instead of that yummy beef barbecue from the joint down the road. Stuff your face with your favourite vegetables and fruits. Don’t treat them as side-dishes or an afterthought but as vital components of your main meals. Don’t forget that you can lower the number of calories you consume everyday without starving yourself.
4. Plan your meals!
The key to a healthy, fat-free life is a balanced diet. Ensure that your eating habits help you reduce your calorie intake. Get a health cookbook or look for low-fat recipes online and create a meal schedule for every week. Make a list of the ingredients you’ll need to cook those meals and stick to that list when you ‘re doing your shopping. That way you won’t keep wondering how those bars of milk chocolate keep following you home.
Discipline yourself! Driving into the nearest fast food outlet every now and then to pick up some ‘grub for the road’ is a no-no. If you must eat between meals, snack on fruits. Eat in small portions, not like a giant feeding machine. You can always go back for a second helping. Reach out to fibre. Fibre keeps your digestive system efficient and regulates the amount of water in your intestines. It also aids bowel movement. Get a box of Weetabix or some other high-fibre cereal and mix it up with some yoghurt and fruit for quick, healthy breakfasts.
If you thought you could escape this part, you’ve got another thing coming. Any weight loss campaign should involve a decrease in calorie intake and an increase in the number of calories burnt. Thirty to forty minutes every four days of aerobic workouts that include brisk walking, cycling, jogging and swimming will help you get rid of excess calories and develop a healthy heart. Spending quality time with treadmills other exercise machines could save you the trouble of going outdoors, but you’d be missing out on the fresh air and early morning sunshine.
Build muscles by lifting weights (dumbbells only please). Due to the fact that muscles require a lot of calories to maintain, developing them increases your body’s resting metabolism (the amount of calories you burn without physical activity). You could also pick up a sport such as tennis or squash to help you get the needed exercise while having some good, sweaty fun.
What has worked for you? Share your experience through the comments box below!