Health, Weight Loss

How I Lost Weight the Healthy Way

Photo of me when I was struggling to lose weight
Photo of me with my sisters and mom in May, 2014.

Like most moms, losing weight post partum was a struggle for me. While it is true that losing weight during 6 months post partum is easier if you’re exclusively breastfeeding your baby (imagine, you can burn as much as 600 calories from exclusive breastfeeding!), it won’t be like that once baby starts eating more solids.  If you’ve been eating so much during the first 6 months and your eating behavior does not change, your body will not burn as much and you end up storing fats which in turn becomes ugly flabs.

The photo above (I’m the one wearing plain pink top) shows how fat I got one (1) year post partum, March 2014.  My weight shot up to 133.2 lbs, and at my height of 5.0″, I was diagnosed as pre-obese. My uniforms didn’t fit anymore; fitting clothes when shopping took so much time because I could not find anything that fit; and I had to catch my breath everytime I walk or take a flight of stairs to the train station.

Needless to say, the pre-obese diagnosis scared the living daylights out of me. I got depressed over it big time too. My average normal weight when I was in college and working as Junior Geologist in Mindanao was 45 kilos (99.21 lbs). During this period I would do Taebo and / or bellydancing after work when in the city and would hike and trek a lot during geologic fieldworks.  Like most girls, perhaps, going from athletic sexy to couch potato fatso is a transition we don’t want but at some point may go through. Unfortunately, this happens often when one becomes a mother.

I had to change. I couldn’t just be another mom who got fat because she had a baby.

I had to be active again and eat healthy food. I had to change my lifestyle.

My chance to lose weight came when in July 2014, our HR announced that there was going to be a “Biggest Loser” program in the office. And the program will be led by none other than Coach Jim and Tony Saret of the Biggest Loser Philippines. Coach Jim and Tony Saret are known for their Metafit program which features Tabata-inspired workouts done for interval of 4-12 minutes. Metafit promises to keep you burning calories the whole day, and as much as 400 calories per day on average. Tabata is considered as HITT or High Intensity Interval Training – currently a fad among those wanting to lose weight fast.

Me with Coach Tony Saret during the inauguration of the company's Biggest Loser program
Me with Coach Tony Saret during the inauguration of the company’s Biggest Loser program

My heart skipped a bit when I saw that I was initially waitlisted to join the program because I was smallest in the group with BMI of 25.9, the minimum BMI to be considered was BMI of 25. But after all the initial weighing and health assessment, I finally got included in the final list of participants.

Coach Jim and Tony Saret’s method of helping people lose weight is simple, as presented here in stages:

I. Initial stage is to stop drinking colored/sugar-rich drinks.

>> On the first week of doing this, some of us lost as much as 5 lbs. And that’s only from skipping soda!

Coach Jim’s advice: Eat a well-balanced meal; each meal should consist of 1/2 plate veggies, 1/4 plate rice (1/2 cup for girls, 1 cup for boys) and 1/4 plate protein (tofu or chicken fillet without skin or beef or pork without fat trimmings). Snacks may be eaten between meals such as 1 serving of fruit or any low calorie snacks such as yogurt, skim milk, etc. Eating healthy and frequently ensures continuous source of energy. It also keeps your metabolism up.  Starvation or crash dieting is a NO-NO since starvation will only lead to compensatory binge eating later.

II. Second stage is doing a daily 4-minute Tabata-inspired workout (yes, that’s right, only 4 minutes) which includes the following routines:

>> 20 counts of jumping jacks, 20 counts of squats, 20 counts of burpee (or squat thrust), 20 counts of push-ups: repeat at least 3 times in 4 minutes

>> We did three (3) cycles in the mornings making sure that we keep hydrated by sipping water in between.  We were also advised to eat a banana or candy for energy source before the workout.

>>> On the second week, some of us lost as much as 6-8 lbs.

Coach Jim and me during the Biggest Loser graduation
Coach Jim and me during the Biggest Loser graduation

III. Third stage was to continue doing Tabata-inspired workouts, but this time increasing the cycles to 4, then 5, then 6 while maintaining the 20 counts per routine and increasing the total duration from 4 minutes to 12 minutes.  By this time, there were added routines such as flap jacks, various crunches, shoulder taps, lunges, alternate lunges, high kness, etc.

These are just some of the routines I did during Biggest Loser Program.
These are just some of the routines I did during Biggest Loser Program. First photo is me while using baby as weight for my arms. Haha

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As you can see, I did not use any equipment or tools for the workout and they were mostly done at home. I used my body weight for toning my muscles. 😉

IV. Weigh-ins were done every first day of the week when our weight progress was charted and monitored by our company nurses. Mondays were also the time when we meet Coach Jim’s team for more deadly workouts (plyometrics and circuit training, anyone? LOL).  Tabata-inspired exercises had to be done everyday except Sunday – our designated rest day when a cheat meal (not cheat day!) was also allowed.

This is how our weight chart looks like:

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This chart includes the following information: weight, height, Body Mass Index (BMI), Base Metabolic Rate (BMR -number that shows if your metabolism is slow/normal/fast; it may also be the minimum number of calories you can burn without doing exercise), fat mass, muscle mass, body chart indicating percentage of fat distribution in the body and suggested activities/workouts.

After 6 weeks:

Final weight: 116 lbs

BMI: ~23 (within normal)

My tummy was flatter, my legs, thighs and arms got firmer and had muscle cuts. I lost my double chin (yay!) and my old clothes fit me again!

I could finally fit into my bellydance costume again!
I could finally fit into my bellydance costume again!
I swim in between Metafit routines as part of my cardio workout.
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In my Biggest Loser shirt. 🙂

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Our program which ran for six (6, and rather painful, LOL) weeks ended last September 2014. In those weeks, I lost a total of 17.2 lbs, with some of my colleagues losing as much as 29 lbs! I did not win the challenge but I was so happy with the visible outcome on my body.

Summary:

1. Metafit works and ideal for busy people like me. HITT workouts such as Tabata can be done minimum of 4 minutes up to 15 minutes (or 30 minutes if you can!), depending really on your preference. You can also do other activities in between  such as 30-minute aerodance or swimming (as in one of my photos taken during Biggest Loser).

2. It doesn’t cost much to lose weight – no need to buy weights, equipments or gym membership. Once your diet has equilibrated, you prolly won’t eat out much and prefer cooking your own food coz it’s healthier that way.

3. Never starve yourself just to lose weight. Instead, eat a balanced meal each time and snack on low-calorie fruits in between meals. Starvation or crash diet will only lead to binge eating later because your body will compensate for the hunger it went through. Instead, change your eating habits gradually.

4. Skip your soda and other high calorie alcoholic drinks and opt for 2-3 L of water a day. Water keeps you hydrated and full. It is also great for your skin. If you must drink wine or cola, do so on your cheat meal.

5. You can still eat your favorite food as cheat meal once a week.

6. Find a workout buddy who is willing to do workouts with you. The more the merrier!  Your workout buddy/ies will become your emotional support when your body is aching all over or when you don’t seem to be losing weight and you’re becoming desperate (it happens!).

7. Change your routine every week or so. Your body will eventually get used to routines that you do regularly. Keep changing your routines every week or so with workouts that will make your heart racing. This is essential.

8. If you had a cheat day, rather than a cheat meal, don’t punish yourself. Instead, do a compensatory healthy diet the next day when you will eat about 900 calories total. Say if you ate so much on Monday, say total of 2,500 calories, and had not done any exercise, have a total of 900 calories intake the next day.  I will write more on this later.  But you can also check the internet on how to count calories or what 900 vs 2, 500-calories actually look like. Ask Mr. Google. 😉

9.  You must enjoy your workout routine. It’s no use doing something that you don’t find enjoyable – this may also lead you to give up easily. If you find dancing hiphop enjoyable, then do at least 4 dance routines per day which may be equivalent to 30 minutes of aerobics or 5-10 minutes of HITT.

10. Don’t forget to hydrate. Eat snack about 1 hour before your workout so you’ll have enough energy to do HITT – which is an intense workout that burn calories real fast.

Finally, love yourself, no matter what. Do the exercise that you enjoy the most because it truly does make one feel good when you’ve accomplished something as difficult as losing weight. I promise you, you’ll feel good after. If there’s one thing that stuck to me while talking to Coach Hazel, it’s “Don’t worry too much on losing weight fast, you’ll get there. Getting stressed over numbers (referring to calorie counting and pounds lost) will only make weight loss hard for your body.” I really find this to be true. Relax, breathe and be happy.

From your fabulous scientist,

Grass

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