Lesson 1: Make it a lifestyle changeFor 28 years I pretty much ate what I please as a result I picked up a few kilos, some body fat and bad eating habits. Changing this meant changing my lifestyle – a permanent, for life change, forever. Get it? Sorry, but you’ll be surprised how many people fail to understand the concept of ‘lifestyle change’.
Lesson 2: Eat to be healthy, not thin.There are two things my mom taught me about diet and exercise. Firstly, there is no such thing as a quick fix, it takes hard work, time and dedication, and secondly, dieting is bad for you.
Having kept in mind that yo-yo dieting is bad for you and this is a lifetime journey, I opted for a low GI diet because it doesn’t cut out any food, instead, it teach you to make the healthier choice. For example, replace potato with sweet potato, choose rye bread over white bread, cut the fat off your meat, opt for the durum wheat pasta and reach for the cinnamon or honey to replace sugar. Portion control is also very important.
In the 12 weeks the eating has become a habit. There are still a few hic-ups, which will come right with time. Look at the ratio 28 years vs 12 weeks, it takes time.
Whichever diet you choose, research, research, research! And then ask yourself, can you do it for life? If the answer is yes, then dive in head first. It also helps to go see a nutritionist/dietician – they are the experts after all.
Lesson 3: Get off your butt and get moving.In the last four years I’ve gone to gym on and off, more off than on. I now go regularly, something I’ve always wanted to achieve, and I love it.
I love the sweat, the achy-muscles and, especially, the ‘hey, I am stronger’ reaction. There is nothing more satisfying that hitting a spinning class and really pushing it, realising that your intensity level is higher than it was yesterday – and you are still going!
It is important to know how to do the exercises correctly, have a training programme and know when to make adjustments. You can’t walk blindly into gym and by some small miracle hope to achieve something – walk in with a goal.
Here you can go either one of two ways – go see a personal trainer or empower yourself to set the training programme and make the adjustments. There are loads of information and advice out there. My favourite is a blog called Gym Rats Sweat and Sacrifice, ShapeMag, Fitness Magazine and the USN website. And, obviously, www.google.com. Google is your friend.
Another benefit is that exercising helps me shift my mind from work to my studies. Sitting down at night has become a little easier because I have the energy.
Lesson 4: Willpower is like a muscle – work it!Be determined. Put your mind to it and do it!
When I feel like I can’t anymore I push for that one extra rep, that one extra minute. In fact, I often put the level up a bit, just to prove to myself that I can.
Lesson 5: Support.Support is like a push-up bra, it gives you a lift when you need one. My mom, from when I first had the idea, had her pom-poms out, and bf cooks at night and takes care of the kittens so I can hit the gym after work. It’s the small gestures of support that makes any journey easier.
Now we get to the two lessons why I decided after 10 weeks to stop using the USN Phedra-Cut and CLA.
Lesson 6: Focus on the task at hand.
I noticed one night during spinning that I clock watch and my focus is on the pile of studying I need to get through, the to-do list on my desk at work and the to-do list of being an adult – bills, washing, deworming tablets for the kittens etc.
During exercising I stress about other stuff rather that focusing on the muscles I am working. As a result I release a stress hormone, which pretty much cancels out the fat burning hormone (at least that was the way it was explained to me). I am working at changing the behaviour by listening to classical music or symphonic metal en route to gym and doing some breathing exercises. Once I manage to succeed in that, hopefully some more body fat will melt away and the muscles, which I know is there, show more.
Stress is an ugly thing, so when you are a gym focus at exercising – de-stress rather than stress more.
Lesson 7: Getting in the zzz’s is important.There is an old saying, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”. Yea, your body doesn’t work that way. An adult should be getting seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep a day.
My first priority is my BA and as a part-time student there is very little I can do about the lack sleep. But yes, sleep is important to burn the fat, recover the muscles and speed up the metabolism.
So where to from here?
I have adjusted my training programme to include more cardio (hopefully bringing down the body fat more) and I am sticking to my low GI diet and working on those eating behaviour hic-ups. Enough to maintain my weight. My goal, after all, is to complete this semester successfully.
After exams I will be doing the USN 12-Week Challenge again. I will then have more time, be able to focus better and sleep more.
As I said in the beginning, there is no such thing as a quick fix, this is a lifetime journey - and I look forward to another 12 weeks of life changing.
Kilos dropped: 7.4kg
Body fat lost: 7.65%
Dress size: From an uncomfortable size 34, boarder-line 36, to a very comfy 34.