"Nick, gym ipasa njala!" A friend of mine lamented. He went on to blame the gym for his rapid weight gain and every other physical feature he didn't like 😃. I was greatly amused by this but I felt his overall approach to things, not just gym, was off. Here's what I suggested to him:
Sleep deep, sleep long 😴
Deep & long = at least 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night in a room with similar features to a cave. I have an alarm for when I should be in bed and I try to be consistent with it. Alarm goes off, so does my phone and the lights. For nights when maganizo 💭 ya paka I opt for a melatonin supplement to help me shut down. It often works very well for me. Poor sleep throws your hormones (especially the ones controlling hunger) off balance and before you know it, your desire for sugary and junk products become insatiable.
⚠️ bathroom breaks can be disruptive to trying to go deep and long with your sleep so you might want to drastically reduce fluid intake an hour or so before bed.
Water is your friend 💧
Hydrate early, preferably upon rising with a combination of water and coffee ☕️. 500 mls of water and a cup or two of black coffee is my morning fix soon after waking up. It literally picks me up and gets me going. For the coffee protesters among us, I'd like to suggest you consider spending a bit more money on the coffee you buy before you write it off completely. I've found caffeine to be a cheat code in this game called life, and it might just help you level up as well in the gym and at work.
Get moving 🏃🏿♂️
Front-loading your exercise program is a great way to manage hunger. If you're hydrated and you push yourself first thing in the morning all that activity and dopamine will sustain you for several hours. Leave every gym session feeling like a lion or lioness and you're well on your way to dominating your appetite and managing what you devour.
Diet? Intermittently fast instead
It's common for people determined to look better to radically change their eating ways while they hit the gym. They'll both read and be told many things of how this diet works better for fat loss and that one for muscle gain. We'll stick to the most common goal; fat loss. Deprivation of the things you like, as is the case with fad diets, often yields short term results with mid to long term consequences. Whatever weight you lose is coming back with interest. Intermittent fasting, for those unaccustomed to it, can be uncomfortable but not as miserable as most 'get skinny quick' diets. Sleep well, hydrate and exercise early and you'll be able to stave off hunger until late morning. Do this often enough and you'll look and feel better in the long run.
Plug any gaps between meals with a handful of nuts. Don't like nuts? Other salty cousins such as popcorn 🍿 or pieces of fruit (specifically apples and pears) are great fillers and appetite suppressors to consider.
I recently discovered and fell in love 😍 with what I thought was a ‘health drink’…it was relatively cheap, tasted great and more importantly identified as a ‘smoothie’. Everything was fine and dandy until one of the smoothie flavors offended my taste buds with an overwhelming taste of sweetness 🤨. The nutritionist in me swung into action and belatedly started reading the nutrition label. I was shocked! This item served up in excess of 50 grams of sugar per bottle😳 🤯 it was a sugar smoothie! How many of us have fallen for a sugar trap expertly disguised as a health fix? Ginger this, ginger that, health shot this, health shot that 🤦🏾♂️ How can you identify a sugar trap? The simple answer is read the label. The how part is what needs further discussion.
The general rule of thumb if you can’t be bothered to dig deeper papa is this: anything with 10 or more grams per serving of sugar is a sugar trap 🪤. If you have a keen interest in your sugar intake then you’re looking at about 10 grams or less of sugar per serving in anything that you put in your mouth. Biscuits, snacks, juice etc - basically everything.
Integrity Check for Alcohol drinkers 🍷 🍺 🥃
Read labels and opt for low sugar mixers that serve less than 10 grams per serving. These usually cost more but your waistline will thank you. If your preference is beer find love in ‘lite’ beers 🍻. Alcohol is empty calories and I’ll translate what this means using words my brother Saviour threw at me: “You can’t decide to have a beer for energy when you start to feel tired.” Easy enough to understand, yes? The only energy alcohol gives you is in the form of liquid courage.
💡A tip for the lazy drinkers among us: use the fat secret website to check the calories of your favorite poison and know that every 100 calories you gulp will demand 20 minutes of walking on average. For more context, this means 6 pack castle lite drinkers need to put one leg in front of the other for roughly 2 hours to burn that off before belly dancing becomes a full time gig.
Integrity Check for Regular lads
Low sugar, diet and zero drinks 🥤 are better bets for your love handles. Most lower sugar drinks tend to have the tag of ‘low kilojoule’ soft drink. Look out for this. It won’t taste as sweet as ordinary soda but it has an acceptable level of sweetness that you can adjust to.
Integrity Basics for Nutrition Labels
You get one or all three of carbohydrates, protein and fat in varying quantities in whatever you put in your mouth. Get your eyes on the label and appreciate what’s written there. My beef today is with sugar so that’s what I want you to look for specifically and apply the 10 gram rule. If that’s under control then more often than not you’re not doing too badly.
💡Health gangster tip 😎: I’ve adopted a ‘small bottle, few sips’ approach. I only buy low sugar drinks in minis and I never finish the full contents of a drink in one sitting. I’ll tease my taste buds and then shut down the party till the next meal session. This hack alone has prevented me from using my belt as a waist trainer. It might help you do the same.
If anything purporting a myriad of health benefits tastes great or is labeled in a manner that suggest ‘health’ in a bottle or packet you should be suspicious. It’s all a bunch of marketing gimmicks. Lastly, remember to check expiry dates of products and if something tastes off, it probably is. Don’t turn yourself into a human grenade launcher 💩 🚀 or wonder why you gain weight when all you consume is ‘smoothies’.