Fighting fit: my weight loss journey
First of all, I want to apologise for my long break from blogging. Over the summer months, I’ve been busy training and trying out new diets to drop my weight by a whopping 10kg to my competition goal weight of 63.9kg by March.
Progress shots taken on 27th February 2019. About another 2kg to drop at this point.
After all my experimentation with intermittent fasting, cutting out carbs and restricting protein intake to just natural food sources, I found that I should have just listened to my nutritionist. When a nutritionist tells you to eat a balanced diet with carbs, protein, natural sugars and fat, you should do it because, you know, they are trained to give you nutritional advice.
And so, I’m trying to drop down to a weight I haven’t been since I was 17 probably.
I honestly don’t remember what I ate in those days. I just ate whatever I wanted, trained a lot and stayed thin. I really do miss my metabolism back then.
Some of you may be wondering why I need to lose so much weight for a competition. If you’ve read my previous posts, you will know this is because I’m naturally shaped like a potato. In my natural state of potato, I’m stocky and short. This puts me at a disadvantage when facing my opponents in Taekwon-Do competitions as most contestants in my weight category are taller and thinner. (Damn those lean, mean fighting machines!)
This is both what I am and what I can't eat right now. [Photo from Pexels]
Because there were a few months to go before my competition, I wasn’t in a great hurry to cut weight. So, I experimented with a few different diets – sometimes unsuccessfully – and I would see the numbers on the scale shooting up instead. One of the weight control methods I tried was intermittent fasting. I found that I was flagging during training and even had to skip a few training sessions because I was too tired. I also struggled to stay awake in the day while trying this approach.
I realised intermittent fasting wasn’t for me, so I went back to a normal diet but with some alterations. I avoided carb-dense food like rice, noodles and Weetbix. Instead, I focused on having plenty of lean meat. This worked better than intermittent fasting but because lean meat is a little dry, I began craving fatty meat like pork. Giving in to my cravings led to yet another bout of weight gain.
During this period, I also made some bad snacking choices. I figured I could have almonds and walnuts because they are healthy and I’d cut out chocolate and sweets. Sounds reasonable right? When I googled the amount of calories they contained, multiplied by the amounts I’d been eating… I’d been unknowingly putting an extra 1000 calories into my body a day! No wonder no matter how hard I trained, my weight was still hovering between 69 and 71kg. I felt really dispirited after realising this.
The next day, I took the day off. I just slept in that morning and didn’t train at all that day. I needed to regain some morale.
The day after that, I went back on the plan the nutritionist recommended, which was low-fat yoghurt, fruits, half a serve of protein shake, and carbohydrates after 30 minutes of training. I decided to not have any protein shakes because they are quite calorific and, anyway, the food I was eating gave me the protein I required. Eventually, I also cut out milk because it’s high in fat content.
An unforeseen benefit from my parents visiting me in Adelaide is that my mum will do the cooking for her and my dad. Because I’m too lazy to cook my own food, I can eat whatever dishes that mum prepares with vegetables or salad instead of rice or noodles. This way I’m getting 70g or 80g of protein and plenty of vegetables. However, since olive oil is calorific and the competition is a week away at this point, I have to count every calorie. So, to add flavour to my salad without using olive oil for the dressing, I’m drizzling my leafy greens with Sriracha and sprinkling on some pickled chilli (Malaysian twist, anyone?) and fried onions. Obviously, this is a lazy man’s guide to cutting calories and may not appeal to everyone.
These days, I’m training 2 to 4 hours daily. This is much more aggressive than what the nutritionist recommended but it is helping me lose that pesky last kilo. I’m having lots of vegetables and more fruits than she recommended to ensure that I’m getting enough nutrients. So far so good. I’m losing fat and there’s been a noticeable difference in the way my body looks. Since reintroducing carbs to my diet, I have more energy to train, and lowering my protein intake had led to a gradual but steady weight loss.
I think in my frenzy of diet experimentation, I forgot the basic rule of weight loss: if you consume more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. Most protein-rich foods like pork, milk and yoghurt are also high in fat content. Yoghurt, especially, is a bit of a calorie trap. When you have yoghurt, you tend to mix in some nuts and dried fruit, and suddenly that healthy breakfast or snack you were having is a little more caloric dense.
Another thing I discovered is that if I wait too long after a meal to train (say, 4 hours instead of 2), I’ll have no energy to train and will have to rely on some instant sugar from chocolate and gummy candy to compensate. This is also not smart. Better scheduling of mealtimes and training sessions could have avoided this problem.
I’m now hovering around 65kg, which means I’m less than 2kg away from my goal fighting weight at 63.9kg. The next seven days will be taxing, both physically and mentally. At this weight, I can already feel the effects on my brain – I’m having some trouble concentrating and remembering things. After this competition, I have to drop my weight even further to 62.9kg for the Germany Taekwon-Do World Championships in April. I don’t know what other influences will manifest themselves later on, but I’ll definitely keep you all posted.
At the end of the day, regulated weight loss done safely and smartly is not easy. It can be done but it requires a ton of discipline, meal planning and exercise. If you want to learn how you can lose weight in a sustainable way and not gain it back, email me at email@example.com or give me a call at 0430 210 669.