Weight Loss Toolbox
Life's been busy the past couple of weeks and after struggling to fit myself into a number of suits I belatedly realized that I had put on some weight. I promptly hopped on the scale and found myself a full 6kgs heavier😵💫. I was shocked! I badly wanted to believe that it was a combination of low grade washing powder and 'made in China' clothing that converted comfortably fitting clothing into body hugging attire. But that's untrue 😩 . Anyway, I have no budget for another wardrobe so these same clothes must serve me. Many in a similar position tend to make full use of what I call a weight loss tool box. I'm going to quickly run through what most of us tend to do to avert a crisis.
Slimming teas 🍵
These are an intermittent solution that can be used for appetite control for anyone struggling with portion control and cravings. Other uses include inducing more urination to drop any excess water weight and pooping 💩 to help with bowel movements and clearing of waste. I view these as useful short term interventions.
Slimming supplements aka fat burners 💊
My personal experience with these has been a mixed bag and the truth is that they don't work unless you do. This means you have to move your body more, even if you're just walking more, watch what you eat and sleep properly to avoid hormonal confusion. Only then will these little pills and powders compliment your efforts. If used in isolation they'll do next to nothing. Note that fat burners are mostly stimulants that get you excited and encourage movement, mixed with thermogenic ingredients that increase body temperature and make you sweat more and/or appetite suppressing ingredients to keep your hunger at bay.
Konjac powder (glucomannan) in particular is a type of fiber weight loss chasers use to fill their stomachs prior to meals. Konjac once ingested expands in the stomach to help keep you full and prevent overeating. Over time eating less can lead to weight loss. Other forms of fiber are useful in any weight loss journey but konjac in my opinion has an edge. I haven't found any locally so if it appeals to you as a weight loss hack then you'd likely have to import it here from places like Bulk Powders UK.
Slimming juices 🥤
These are mostly laxatives in a liquid form. The general idea is to clear the backlog. The products are effective over the short term but they're nasty 🤢 and WILL test the strength of your desire to lose weight quickly. Pooping my way to slenderness by drinking a foul concoction is not my preferred way of doing things. It's uncomfortable and quite literally draining. But hey, to each his own.
Intermittent fasting aka diet ya njala 🍱 ⛔️
If I could do just one thing of everything listed here then it'd be intermittent fasting. It's simple really, your mouth opens at certain times and stays closed at other times. It takes some getting used to but works wonders for weight loss when executed properly.
Sustainable weight loss is only obtained via optimal dietary interventions, exercise and lifestyle adjustments. The weight loss toolbox is a quick fix and desperate attempt to lose weight quickly i.e. I want to fit into that dress by this xxx (date). Outside of intermittent fasting, dependance on other weight loss hacks listed above is unwise. Use them to get to where you want to be and stop. Change your habits and overall behaviour to maintain.
⚠️ People with pre-existing conditions (known or unknown), pregnancies or breastfeeding would be wise to consult a medical practitioner before utilizing any tool in the weight loss toolbox. You might slim yourself into non-existence if you don't know what you're doing.
My wife recently restarted her fitness journey and after going hard for a week she was grounded by illness over the weekend. What happened? It was a typical case of hard training combined with hard dieting that led to suppressed immunity. I've been a victim myself chasing ridiculous targets like losing a kilogram a day 😣. Extreme I know, but like many of you I wanted results quickly and like my wife, I soon learnt a humbling lesson and that is; progress should be gradual.
What happens when you overdo it?
How should you approach things?
Eat sufficiently to support your training OR train at an appropriate intensity that doesn't exceed your decreased nutrition, but gently helps your weight loss efforts. It's a balancing act that you must get right. Avoid combining hard training with hard dieting. You can go hard in one but keep it moderate with the other.
You just can't "train like a horse and eat like a bird". You're asking for problems.
I grew up believing the infomercials I saw on TV, the pictures and articles I saw and read in magazines. All you had to do was swallow this pill or mix this powder in your favourite drink and it would change your body from the inside out overnight. I genuinely believed that’s all it took and I spent my money on supplements waiting on my body to dramatically change. And when I didn’t see results I increased my investment in a whole cocktail of supplements. It took me a while to break down supplementation and understand what works and what doesn’t.
It's something you take before you work out to give you a little and sometimes big boost ⚡. These are fantastic 'switch on' supplements that can elevate your training by giving you energy and motivation to push harder. However, not all pre-workouts are created equal and not everyone responds the same to them. I'm not loyal to any specific pre-workout, I just look out for a reasonable combination of the following ingredients at these dosages to ensure energy, focus and a pump:
Creatine Monohydrate 🦍
Creatine is one of the few powdered supplements that have been thoroughly researched and proven to work. It helps improve strength, power, and muscle mass. Extensive studies have found that it is safe to consume long term without negative effects.
⚠️ Keep it simple and avoid other 'advanced' forms of creatine. It's not that they don't work, but that they just don't don't give you the same value for money. Stick to plain old creatine monohydrate.
Whey Protein 💪🏾
Protein is effective for muscle recovery and building muscle. The most important thing is the quantity and quality of protein consumed daily. 2g of protein x your bodyweight in kgs will give you a daily protein target to aim for. Depend on food first and supplement with protein to make up the difference where you fall short. How will you know? Download the Nutritionix app or Myfitnesspal app on your phone and start logging what you eat at each meal. You'll get a rough estimate of how much protein you're ingesting and if it falls short of the calculation outlined you may want to consider supplementing. If you don't fall short, then don't supplement. More isn't better.
I typically take 2-4 servings per day in addition to the food I already eat. I use protein supplements in specific phases and training blocks to cut weight and recover from sessions quickly during certain periods i.e. Summer Shredding. Outside of that it's just not that serious for me, it shouldn't be for you either.
Fat Burners 🔥
Great short-term options that mostly get the job done by acting as appetite suppressants and metabolism boosters. The stimulant versions of these products are a lot more effective than the non-stimulant versions. Be wary of excessive stimulants if you're taking both a fat burner and a pre-workout. One of them should be stimulant free if you want to combine the two because believe me when I tell you that overstimulation is not a sexy feeling.
⚠️ Pay attention to your mood on fat burners. If you don't feel good there's likely something in the product that doesn't agree with you. You might want to abandon ship and switch until you find what works for you.
Multivitamin 🌈 ✅
An insurance policy against any nutritional gaps which are more than likely for an active individual. They don't break the bank and benefits you get from them won't punch you in the face because they're are subtle but listen, they're very useful. Anyway, I'm a believer and Wellman's multivitamin (UK brand) is typically what I use. Available in local pharmacies.
Supplement World Zambia has everything you need in one store. Game stores is an alternative but it might be at a higher price point and so is Nutritech Zambia with more competitive pricing and product ranges. If you want to know more about ingredients in terms of what they do, whether they work and how much to take then read more on this on the examine.com website. It has excellent free resources to help you make an informed decision.
A Woman's Struggle for Fitness
"Nick. This fitness life isn't for me. Nili na pressure." I didn't understand at first but she went on to further explain what she meant. Women face a number of hurdles when it comes to getting back in shape and this is how she broke it down for me:
The petty stuff
The real stuff
Ultimately when it comes to responsibility for the married or committed among us, you need your partners support. Your husband needs to step up and share responsibility whether it’s with the kids, with the cooking, cleaning - EVERYTHING. Fitness should be a shared goal.
Running and dogs
Chikwela mu gym
Restarting your fitness journey
Women and weights
Summer bodies are made in winter
I was recently asked to blog about gym etiquette by a friend of mine and fellow gym mate that's irritated by unwritten rules not being followed by some. Common sense isn't common so let's discuss these matters before someone gets tagged with a dumbbell!
Mind your business
It’s perfectly fine to introduce yourself to new members or people you keep seeing at the gym but avoid ichibeleshi✋🏾. Don’t offer unsolicited advice and unless you have the physique that screams 'I know what I'm talking about' and/or you're familiar with the individuals you wish to correct stop policing people. Many gym goers are fairly self-conscious in the weight room, so don't shine a spotlight on them; mind your business.
Respect personal space ⛔
Gyms can get busy, but it’s polite to give other gym-goers as much space as you can. Try not to get on a bike or treadmill right next to someone if other machines are available. If you're forced to train next to another person, keep your eyes from wandering and on your own machine. As for weights stand far enough away from your fellow exercisers to give them room to train comfortably and just breathe without you suffocating them.
Lastly, be polite to other members, but be mindful of starting conversations that don't have an ending. While you might be lovely company and a funny guy many people just don't have the time for excessive small talk and mickey mouse conversations. It's distracting.
Clean up after yourself 🧽
During your workout, it’s best to keep your water bottle, towel, mat, and other items close to you instead of spreading them all over the place mungulu mungulu. This helps other gym-goers know which equipment you’re using and which spaces are available for them to exercise in. And when you're done please wipe down 🧽 any and all machines you used! Use a towel to wipe down all surfaces your skin touches.
Proper gyms should have wipes or a spray bottle with disinfectant 🦠 throughout the gym that you can use to spray and wipe down a piece of equipment. If they don't you might want to consider changing gyms before you start catching bacterial infections and your skin starts changing color.
Keep it pushing and don't be a hoarder
When you’re using the gym equipment, it’s important to remember that—like you—other people are working out on a tight schedule ⏰ . You need to train and keep it moving. Nobody swings by the gym to witness you sitting on equipment you’re not using to text or scroll social media. They don't show up to marvel at you doing your circuit either so please avoid circuits during peak hours. Come during off peak if that's your preferred way of training to prevent holding up everyone else.
Lekeni ichongo (Noise) 🗣 🦍
Gents, when you're moving serious weight please spare us with the macho noise making and dropping of weights. Working hard, with a few grunts and groans is understandable but when it's excessive, it becomes a distraction for other gym members. Control yourself and be respectful of others by reducing your volume.
Sambani Please (Bath) 🛁 🧼
More on this here. People should not be able to smell you coming. Keep things fresh!
Chikwela Mu Gym
June's here and everybody's sniffing, coughing, sneezing and just generally sub-optimal. You don't have to be a victim of the cold weather. Play your cards right and you won’t only survive the winter but potentially thrive in it! Here's how:
Personal hygiene & skin protection
Wash your hands with soap 🧼 at every opportunity. Do this for at least 20 seconds while remembering to scrub under your fingernails and you can be reasonably assured that you've removed most germs and viruses that you may have been exposed to. Moisturize your hands when you're done and don’t forget to place some vaseline on your crusty lips 👄 . For people like me that have eczema and general dry body syndrome you should invest in a good moisturizer like CeraVe or E45 (available at PicknPay) before the winter transforms you and your skin into a different species. It's a very dry season and the cold air tends to draw out the moisture from your skin so guard against it.
Create a warm, cozy environment and sleep more. Ensure that you go to bed warmly dressed. Tip: Winter socks are absolute gold - find them, buy them and use them. These tips extend to married folk too. Get your mamina under control before you start thinking about other things. You might also want to consider spending some money on a weighted blanket to increase the heat and comfort in your bed.
Incorporate more citrus fruits
Any orange or yellow colored produce such as oranges 🍊 , naartjies, lemons 🍋 as well as any other fruits you can get your hands on will help a great deal in providing your vitamin needs and lifting your immunity.
With the sun taking a vacation you might want to consider a vitamin D supplement to support your immune system. If you're male it'll likely do a lot more for you and go a looong way with other things. For those averse to supplements consider exposing yourself to whatever little sunlight you have available for 15 to 20 minutes daily or consume your vitamin D through vegetables that absorb it such as the darker vegetables like spinach and/or fortified dairy products. Other optional supplements to consider include a multivitamin pill that'll act as an insurance policy for any gaps in your nutrition. If you'd rather not engage in pill popping then have a serving of varying fruit and vegetables with every meal.
Other useful tips:
Winter's here 🥶and it's been brutal! The cold temperature changes can adversely impact positive health and wellness habits real quick but I'm hoping to keep you on track with your fitness goals. Here's how you can manage yourself:
Can't get out the blankets? Choose to intermittently fast and skip breakfast to compensate for the lack of activity in the morning. Eat according to what you intend on doing. If that's nothing then place your mouth on the same abstinence schedule. The general idea is to force your body to sustain itself off your fat reserves. The jiggly components on your body consisting of your belly, thighs and love handles are all fat reserves. Intermittent fasting melts away any excess fat that you don't want. I highly recommend it!
Watch your fluid intake
Nothing beats a hot cup ☕ of anything on a cold, miserable day but consuming multiple cups with multiple tablespoons of sugar and honey WILL pack on the pounds. Opt for green tea 🍵 as your first choice hot beverage option and senna tea every now and then . Green tea will help you lose fat by stimulating your metabolism and slowing down your absorption of carbohydrates while senna tea will help you poop more 💩. ⚠️ Note: Senna should only be considered as a short term remedy to keep things moving and not as a daily tea option. If you prefer other teas then consider sweeteners such as stevia (available at Umoyo) ahead of sugar. As for honey, it isn't a get out of jail free card because if you over-indulge you will get fat. Watch yourself on those honey and lemon tea combinations.
Home-based workouts are a viable solution to your winter troubles. You can follow a structured program such as P90x or Insanity (available on Beach Body) or engage in simple interval training such as Seven right from the comfort of your warm home environment. If you’re too lazy to work out at the gym or go running every morning, you can always exercise at home. You can skip the gym, but there’s no need to skip the workout.
Hit the Gym After Work or Over Your Lunch Break
Just in case you don't feel motivated to leave your bed in the morning finding time over your lunch break or after work might work out better for you. You'll have a bit more time to adapt to the weather and get on with it.
Befriend Your Bathroom Scale
Remember that scale in the corner of your bathroom? Put some respect on it and bring it back to the centre of your bathroom and use it daily. Best done first thing in the morning after using the restroom. This practice will keep you well aware of any undesirable changes in body weight while you hibernate. Armed with this knowledge you can make an informed decision: Either you start doing some activity or turn your head from left to right every time food is offered to you.
The winter provides you with an opportunity to hide what you're not happy with under various layers of clothing, summer does not. Avoid surprising yourself!
Diet Ya Njala
Restarting Your Fitness Journey
The 5 Minute Myth
Sleep restores the body physically and mind mentally and emotionally. You need sleep to ensure that your mind and body operates optimally and your general mood is properly calibrated. An absence of memory recall, mental agility na ka temper temper is usually as a result of premature ejection from the blankets and hunger (in some cases).
Sleep is thought to help keep the immune system strong and the heart and blood vessels healthy. It allows for growth and healing, and helps control appetite and weight. Sleep also promotes creativity, attention, memory and learning.
Sleep has 4 stages, 3 of which are non-REM (rapid eye movement) and the last being REM sleep.
During stage 1, you are transitioning between being awake and asleep, and wake easily. During stage 2 your body temperature and heart rate starts to drop and your muscles relax as you fall into a slightly deeper sleep. During stage 3 you're in deep sleep with your body fully subdued and relaxed. At stage 4 (REM) rapid eye movements begin, your brain's activity increases as well as heart rate and blood pressure and most of your dreaming occurs. Dreams are considered important for learning and creating new memories.
A complete sleep cycle comprises of all 4 stages of sleep with each cycle lasting an average of 90 minutes.
How much sleep do you need?
Most adults need about 8 hours of sleep per night which is roughly 5 sleep cycles. Some people can cope with less but that doesn't make it ideal or optimal. Test different sleeping hours and pay attention to things such as your mood, appetite control, memory and general alertness. Settle for the number of hours where you feel your best without forcing things or playing mind games. Generally speaking and without encouraging laziness, the more sleep cycles you can get in the better.
How can you sleep better?
Do everything you can to level up your sleep game and it'll pay dividends if you stick with it. Your mental sharpness will skyrocket, emotional balance will maintain equilibrium and physical wellbeing will improve.
Restarting Your Fitness Journey
Everyone has likely found themselves in a corporate building or shopping mall having to take the stairs because the elevator wasn’t working. If you're out of breath and cursing the engineers and the schools they went to then just know that you're letting yourself go. Life gets busy sometimes but you need to get back on track with your health and fitness. I want to show you how.
Make exercise the first order of business
Go for a run/walk 🏃🏿♂️ 🏃🏾♀️ first thing in the morning or hit the gym 🏋🏾♂️ for a strong start to your day. Those afraid of getting slapped while exercising in the morning can opt to join the Lusaka Fitness Squad for group running sessions. If you don't have the discipline or experience to exercise on your own then consider guided classes such as aerobics with Lubasi (0969-900786), spin class with Twambi over at lifestyle gym or boot camp over at Go-Go Fitness. If you want personalized attention and encouragement then Joe (0978786307) has got you covered with personal training services to whip you back in shape.
Whatever you decide to do just get it done as the first order of business before the spirit of laziness gets a chance to overwhelm you. And most importantly remember to have fun with it! You won’t be consistent if you engage in activities you don’t enjoy.
Consider joining a recreational sports team/club
Social soccer ⚽️ at the Barca Academy is good keep-fit option to consider for those that didn’t quite make it pro😅. Whatever team you decide to join will likely play a couple times a week and that's sufficient for a start (>0) and most certainly better than no activity at all. Your employer might even be paying for your recreational activities so join the madalas for free and run around a little. Alternatively you could sign up for golf ⛳️ . I'm not entirely convinced about the merits of golf as a sport but it does allow for a fair bit of walking 🚶🏾♂️ and for the opportunists among us, a chance to network.
Purchase a home workout program such as insanity or P90x
All you need is money and a TV and you can follow guided fitness sessions at a time and place of your convenience. I strongly suggest doing this in the morning before breakfast as any time after that is more of a gamble. Get active before someone spoils your day and sends you straight into your blankets 😤 🛌 after work. Available for purchase and streaming on Beach Body.
Clean up your nutrition 🍽 🥦 🍌 🥛
Eating better and nourishing your body in a manner that aligns with your body goals doesn't require a complete kitchen overhaul. Small adjustments add up to big results over time. Tips on how to do this include:
Sleep adequately 😴
Aim to have better quality and quantity sleep by targeting 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Poor sleep in terms of quality and quantity has been linked to hormonal imbalances, and subsequent poor mood, appetite control and weight gain as well as a compromised immune system. Neglecting sleep is self-sabotage. Nga taule nchetekela kepushe ba Google 💻 .
Dropping a dress size or getting rid of that belly doesn't have to be a long drawn out, punishing process that only the tough among us can endure. It could really be as simple as adding more of one specific nutrient to your diet: fiber.
What is fiber?
Fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate that passes through the digestive tract relatively undigested.
There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber moves through your digestive tract and it absorbs water to create a gel-like substance. This has a softening effect on your stool. Insoluble fiber is essentially roughage that does not dissolve in water, but absorbs it, helping to form bulkier poop and improve elimination. Overall, fiber intake helps reduce your risk for constipation, haemorrhoids (you don't want these, trust me), and some forms of cancer while also stabilising blood glucose levels, lowering total blood cholesterol, increasing fullness and delaying hunger and finally, improving gut health and immunity
Easy-to-find food sources of fiber:
Some tips for increasing fiber:
Fiber has a myriad of benefits and on the weight loss front fiber is king. There's no better appetite suppressant or cravings killer that can outdo fiber. Get yours in and you'll literally be flushing away the excess weight 🚽 💩.
⚠️ Warning: For those unaccustomed to high fiber intake you'd be wise to incorporate more lemon water and/or a probiotic supplement or probiotic containing food or drink such as yoghurt or kombucha to combat the gas 💨 you'll likely experience. The effects of gas tend to wear off with time so this recommendation is for those that would rather not wait 😄.
ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer & Nutritionist
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