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The Non-Secret for a Healthy Life

How do you maintain your ideal weight and feel great? This is the perennial question for ages—the answer lies in that ever elusive holy grail of the existence of life: Common Sense.


If you want to feel great and maintain your ideal weight then it is very simple—common sense dictates that you need to expend more than you put into your body! It is brutally obvious that you must balance energy intake with energy expenditure, or put simply, cut back on calories and exercise more. This is an immutable law of nature. I know all too well because for some time in my youth I thought that I could change the "health" laws. I was unable to accept that proper nutrition and plenty of exercise was the best prescription for health!


As a young man at the age of 19, I weighed well in excess of 100kgs. I will not say how much more because it still remains a source of embarrassment for me to this day—some 28 years later. With a generous Italian mother at home who lived to cook and feed her children, I pretended for a long time that given my height, my weight was ideal for me—obviously mirrors did not feature much in my life! However, after being rejected by the girl of my dreams—a girl who I had loved for nearly a year from afar—because I was in her words ".....too fat to go out with" I decided that I needed to do something about this.


I quickly turned to my sister's diet book and discovered that someone of my age and size needed at least 3000 calories per day but if I could reduce that to 2000 then I would lose 1 kg every two + weeks. I did some quick mental calculations and concluded that if I was to reduce my calorie intake to 300 calories per day then the weight would drop off at twice the rate and in half the time! I was a genius.


After five days of my new diet regime the results were amazing:

• I was unable to get out of bed — I was "dying" of malnutrition;

• I had not lost an ounce in weight;

• My mother was torn between calling in our local priest to give me my last rites or force feeding me the lasagne she had made the night before. She subsequently elected to berate me and lament that she could not believe that she had given birth to someone so stupid.


In order to avoid being further "abused" by my mother, I reluctantly decided that I would adopt an innovative approach to losing weight: try eating less and exercising a little more. My meals became smaller and running became a feature of my daily life. Within 12 weeks I had lost 25 kgs—much easier when you are young, of course. These days I am very good at putting on a few kilos but then trying to get those few kilos off is at times a struggle but not impossible.


Like most people, I ate more than enough food. However, what compounds the problem is that all too often, much of it is the wrong food. For daily nutritional value it's essential to eat a variety of foods, ensure you get lots of fibre (fruits, vegetables, grains), maintain a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet, use moderate amounts of salt in cooking and limit alcoholic intake. While you are limiting your alcohol intake you need to increase your water intake—very important part of any diet/ exercise regime.


Although this may be hard to start with (and do not think you are the only one who finds this hard—everyone does), the following steps, along with some common sense and patience, will ensure positive and, most importantly, sustainable results:

• Don't starve yourself thinking you will lose more weight—it does not happen. You are doing more damage than good;

• Eat breakfast, eat breakfast, eat breakfast—we have said this three times, just to emphasise the point, not for you to have three breakfasts;

• Eat small meals throughout the day, snacking on healthy options such as fruit, carrot sticks and nuts. You are better served by having 6 small meals per day as opposed to three large meals;

• Keep dinner meals small and watch the amount of carbohydrates you pile on. In fact, a simple way to do this is to use smaller dinner plates for yourself;

• Don't go back for seconds, do not even think about seconds;

• Opt for steaming or baking foods instead of frying—how obvious is this!

• Reward yourself with a massage or new dress: not with chocolate. Always remember when you think about inhaling that Tim Tam—a moment on the lips is a lifetime on the hips!

• If your weight loss has reached a plateau, 'shock' your body by changing around your food plan or exercise routine to kick start your metabolism again.


Lastly, it is important to measure food portions. There is a myth that you can eat as much as you like of healthy or low fat foods. Again, common sense needs to prevail: healthy foods, if eaten in excess, will still cause weight gain. Tanita's precision kitchen scales allow you to measure every single ingredient that goes into your meals, before it goes into your mouth!


Weigh everything and keep a food diary to track what goes in your mouth. Become disciplined enough to stop at one serve, even if you think you are still hungry. Finally, remember – always use common sense and you will find within a short time that nothing tastes as good as great health feels!

Last modified on Tuesday, 11 October 2011 12:16
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