I was gaining weight consistently ever since I completed my ‘A’ levels and went on to the army. Thereafter, food intake continued to spike during exam periods and summer holidays while doing my internships. This is a reflection of a month’s work without giving up my favourite food.
During my last internship in SingHealth, I was exposed to a jaw dropping number of statistics showing how the probabilities of nearly every sickness goes up when a person crosses the overweight mark. At that point, I was well into the overweight category.
Nothing really pushed me to have a hard look at my weight until I realized I was getting so fat my arms could go numb simply by hanging down. I felt lethargic, slow, heavy and easily tired. So I decided it was time to change.
I like running long distances. I am not good at it but it’s at least better than any other physical thing I could do. The usual reaction when I think about losing weight is to go and run, burn off those fats and the like. I’ve ran for short periods in the past so it was quite easy to go back to something I knew pretty well.
I am pretty fortunate to be living near Lakeside reservoir which has quite a scenic park. That has been my go to area for running and it served me well for the month.
Not Giving Fried Food Up
I am a huge meat eater and I like chicken. I found out I like my food even more when it is deep fried. I don’t really like fish but when it goes into the deep fryer – pow! It tastes like magic. I remember telling my friends that if I were ever going to change my diet, it would never include giving up fried stuff.
With the rising hawker prices – KFC has become a good value proposition . Two massive pieces of chicken for about $6.40 with fries and coke to boot. If you compare that to a plate of chicken rice in town you can imagine why KFC gets the nod. I’m not a complete addict to KFC, I eat it about twice a month and on days I’m not eating it I do take a huge portion of food. Obviously, I eat Macs a lot more often than KFC too.
Something Had To Go
Well, I decided that running alone was not going to help me get back to the normal weight category. I also did not want to spend more than 40mins a day trying to lose weight. As any economist will tell you – time is of essence. So I had to diet. But I didn’t want to give up my favourite food.
I came to a compromise. A compromise that every dietitian and nutritionist will tell you it’s wrong to do so but heck I decided to give it a shot anyways.
I decided to cut back on dinner massively. I usually have two huge meals a day. A big one for lunch and another for dinner. Dinner used to be the highlight because it is homecooked and my mom would cook a really huge portion for me. Huge portions of every dish.
I didn’t want to go for the ‘take many small meals’ approach even though it is the right way to go because I did not want to feel consistently hungry. My stomach has long been the type that you either fill it to the brim if you give it food – or – not give it food at all. So I decided, keep the lunch but the dinner will be cut back massively.
What I Did for 4 Weeks
The routine was simple. I didn’t want to be ambitious so I targeted running every other day and having 2 slices of wholemeal bread with tuna for dinner. I spent the first few days actually not running basically because I was lazy. So I decided to climb about 40 flights of stairs each day instead. This was actually a good accidental move because it kinda prepared my body in some way for the run.
Week 2 started and I swapped over to running. The first run is always tough and I did the usual 2.4km for the first 3 days. After that, things became easier as I adjusted and I pushed on to 3.2km. One thing about running is momentum. The moment I started running I didn’t want to stop. I was driven both by the feeling of getting back to speed and also the fear that if I stopped I would never be bothered to start again.
So I ran everyday, 6 days a week. From 2.4km for the first 3 days and it grew to 4km daily after 2 weeks.
All through that I ate my normal unhealthy meals for lunch and kept my dinner down to a slice of wholemeal bread or two. What I found was that running took my appetite away for some reason. There were days I had completely no desire to eat dinner but had to take at least a slice of bread to ensure my body had enough.
Of course, I ate KFC every 2 weeks as well. On top of Macs and the usual stuff.
I did not bother trying to check my weight and chart progress because I was already feeling a lot better after a week. Lethergy was definitely going away and I began to feel a lot more comfortable. My dad decided to force me to weigh myself and after the first week I lost 2kg. Second week yielded another 2kg. Third was the same before it slowed to just 1kg for the fourth week.
The weight loss went better than I thought. I initially had the impression dropping back down to the normal weight category would require 3 months or more but I hit my initial target with a month.
Obviously not everything went nice and smooth. My drive or fear to keep running lead to a nasty shin splint on my right foot which I first ignored in the fourth week before it turned out too painful to even walk properly. This was my own doing of course. I was told running 6 days a week was stupid considering I had nearly no proper ramp up period and my body had no chance to adjust.
I decided it was bad enough that I would keep the same diet and stop running till the splint is gone. So, this is where I am now.
What I did was probably stupid, wrong and/or crazy but it worked. The fifth week of resting saw no weight gain and very minor weight loss which suggests I can cut back down on running and maybe do 4km three to four days a week instead of the usual six.
Don’t do what I did. I make strange choices because I have strange preferences. (For example, people are believed to like to smooth consumption over time but I’m an all or nothing person). I’m just sharing this because this is the first ever time I put some effort into losing some weight and it did pay off.
Those that saw me on a daily basis saw the loss in weight visually but frankly losing 7kg is not going to be a big visual difference with clothes on.
My end goal was not to look better but to feel better and in a big way this has been a great experience for me.
I’m looking forward to maybe shedding a few more kilos just to be safe. Also, putting in 5km daily would be a realization of a personal end goal that looked close in sight after 4km was turning out to be easy in the 4th week.
Hopefully, I can restart things within a week!