I lost 20 pounds, time for a wardrobe makeover

A few months ago I made the decision to make some healthy changes in my life. Instead of coming home from work and falling asleep on the couch watching TV I was going to try and get fit and healthy. After completely changing my diet, I have now developed a taste for grilled veggies, and settling on an exercise plan I am proud to say that I have lost 20 pounds. While I’m excited about this, and it does make up for having to give up juicy steaks and greasy burgers, it has also caused a new problem. None of my clothes fit me anymore. Even after building muscle mass, my pants are too big and my shirts are too loose across my chest.

 

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I want to make it clear that I’m not complaining, I’m actually pretty proud of myself. It’s just replacing my entire wardrobe is going to be pretty expensive. I know some people will point out hyd2that this is the perfect time to try out some of the latest styles and grab a few pieces I’ve been dying to see how they look on, but once again there is still the issue with my budget. The good news is that I’ve managed to lose weight and build muscle without spending a lot of money. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and pasta are just as filling as a T-bone steak, but definitely less expensive. You also get a lot more so you can eat affordably for several days.. I still treat myself to an occasional steak or even a slab of ribs, but this also helps to prevent me from “plateauing” so I can keep losing weight.

As for my workouts I haven’t had to pay for any of them. There are hundreds of workout programs you can buy, but I found the same exercises being performed for free on YouTube. This also allowed me to pick and choose so I created an effective workout that is perfected for me. The best part of this is I can workout in front of the TV so I can still watch all of my favorite shows.

 

 

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Since losing weight is actually saving me money and I haven’t really had to spend any on my workout program I do have a little extra sitting aside that I can use to start making over my wardrobe. Hopefully some of my favorite stores are having a sale, and a friend also told me that I might be able to save some money by shopping online. I do know that the first step is to measure my chest and waist, and since I plan on sticking with my new workout and exercise plan I will also probably need to plan on buying a belt.

Eating healthier and exercising more

I’ve wanted to get back in shape for many years now, but due to my hectic schedule, I was never able to make some changes in my diet and exercise routine. In fact, I didn’t have any workout routine to speak of, given that I used to get home from work and spend the night watching television until I finally dozed off on the couch. I struggled with my weight and insomnia for a long time, and I dramatically wanted to change something about my lifestyle.

Getting started is always tough. Hang in there!

Recently, I started watching several bodybuilders on YouTube. While many people aren’t aware of this, the online environment is filled with useful info that you can use so that you slowly start being healthy again. There are a plethora of individuals who put up videos on a daily basis, about their diet and the most efficient ways of losing weight. I came across many popular diets, ranging from the South Beach Diet to the Ketogenic one. I didn’t want a regimen that was strictly based on a group of nutrients while completely leaving out the rest. From what I gathered, the Dukan Diet gives amazing results but I find it hard to believe that eating just meat and a limited amount of oats for as many as ten to twelve days can be healthy.

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Learning how to eat well

I started by including some fresh vegetables and fruit into my diet, although I hardly am a fan of plums, apricots, bananas, or any other sugar-filled fruit. I have a grill in my backyard, and while I used to cook just burgers and grilled steak, I started grilling my veggies as well. With a bit of sauce and seasoning, these things can turn into delicious dishes. At first, I lost around ten pounds or so but then I started plateauing. Since I didn’t eat any fat or too much protein, I started asking around and doing a bit of research as to why I didn’t lose any more weight. Based on the info that I found, it seems that the human body is designed in such a way that it will resist to changes and so I decided to include a weekly cheat meal where I enjoyed a burger or a fatty steak. I know that some people say that the Ketogenic diet is the bomb, but I didn’t think it so because there were ketogenic dieters who ate up to six eggs per day and that couldn’t have been healthy.

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As for the exercise, since I didn’t want to spend any money on a gym subscription, I decided to work out at home. I have a stationary bike that I use for up to fifteen minutes every day, which seemed enough effort at the beginning. Then, I decided to take my routine to another level by integrating a bit of Zumba. Since I’m not just focused on losing the weight but also on building up some muscle, I use two water bottles that I hold in my hands all throughout my exercise. Once I’m done with 30 minutes of Zumba, I start doing push-ups, crunches, and various other simple exercises for up to 30 minutes, as well. So now, after reading also a few articles from dek23.com ( a website I highly recommend) I work out for around 75 minutes every day. The neat thing about this routine is that you can watch TV while you perform it.

The second step

In my last post, I was telling you about how my friends have recently drawn me into their football project. This small project, that was supposed to be a simple football meeting on Wednesday nights has grown into something else: a local dream team. My first reaction when they asked me to join it was to smile a bit intrigued explaining them that I’m not what you call a skilled sportsman and everything I know about football comes from my high school years when I used to play a bit, what I get a chance to watch on TV and the fact that I play with them on Wednesdays. They didn’t let themselves convinced by my arguments and had me going to the trials that took place on a Sunday afternoon, to secure a place in the team. Right now, we’re supposed to start a regional championship and each neighborhood has to come with its own team. As you can see, I’m in a bit of a trouble so I’ve decided to study some football techniques from one of the best players in the world to improve my scoring skills.

 

hydro 5So, since the European championship just got to an end, and Portugal won, let’s start with one of the moves that Cristiano Ronaldo is famous for: the double scissors. This football scheme is used to disorientate your attacker. It has to be executed fast and you need to be a skilled football player to not stumble upon your own feet (I say this from my own experience) or on the ball to manage a perfect double scissors.

 

Hydro 4The Cruyff turn is another scheme that became famous and largely used after Johan Cruyff, a Dutch player used it way too much to fool its opponents. The move consists from a turn that is masked by a pass attempt. Basically, Cruyff would move his leg so that to make the opponent believe he was going to pass the ball. The attacker would at that moment move in the direction in which he thought the ball was going, but Cruyff would turn the ball around and swiftly get by its opponent. It’s a simple and elegant move that helped him a great deal through its football career and one which I’m planning to master perfectly in a couple of weeks… or years.

 

Another famous technique that I believe could be helpful for my football style is a penalty trick. Though we’ve seen Zinedine Zidane or Zlatan Ibrahimovic doing it, this move was brought to the field by the Czechoslovakian (at that time) player Antonin Panenka, who, in 1976 scored the victory penalty for his national team against West Germany, by elegantly chipping the ball into the net instead of sending it with speed. I do love the effect it has on goalkeepers: they move in the direction in which they believe the ball is sent and then they’re caught up surprised that the goal has already been scored. It’s an awesome tactical shot and mastering it would give me great advantage, if we ever need to score through penalty shots.

The first step

I started having back pain a couple of months ago, and when it had become unbearable, I decided to go to the doctor’s office. After several tests and an X-ray, it became clear that I was suffering from osteophytes, which are small-sized calcium and other minerals deposits in my lower back area. I bought a small massage device that I could use for myself or with the help of my wife. I applied all sorts of gels and other anti-inflammatory ointments and for a while, things had started to become a lot better.

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However, several weeks ago, I started having the same pesky pain all over again. Finally, when I asked my physician for another way of dealing with the problem, he recommended me to get into a light sport, do a bit of jogging, or create an exercise routine at home. My problem, just like the one of many other people all over the world, was that I spent way too many hours in a chair at work. I had also put on some pounds over the past couple of years that I didn’t seem to shed regardless of the regimens and diets I tried. Fortunately for me, things weren’t so severe.

After doing some exercise at home and looking for online resources in this sense, one of my friends asked me if I didn’t want to take up soccer. I was excited, to say the least, mostly because this was a neat way of spending my spare time. I could make new friends and get together with the boys every Wednesday evening when everyone seemed to have a bit of time off from work. I was never a huge fan of soccer since I used to play football in high school. Even so, I realized that this was by far the best way of getting the light exercise I needed so much.

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I started looking for the proper equipment for the sport and eventually, I decided to ask for my friend’s opinion on the matter and even go with him to a store. I got some of the cheapest shin guards, shoes, and clothes, partly because I didn’t know just how much soccer would help me deal with my problem, and partly because I wasn’t aware of the fact that this training would go on for a while. I started loving soccer so much that I wanted to meet up with the guys even more often, although we didn’t seem to synchronize our schedules to make it happen. In the summer, we go to a nearby soccer field where we’re free to have as many matches as we feel like. During the winter, we have to pay a subscription to a soccer studio, but it’s worth every penny as we have a lot more fun than we would if we were to go to a gym.

All in all, I couldn’t be happier with my workout routine. I feel healthier and have managed to get back in shape, and my back pain is a notion of the past. For me, soccer made the whole difference both in terms of health and socializing with my buddies.

When food threatens to kill you

The main reason for which I’m writing this blog is because I’m trying to slim down and I’m having a hard time doing so. I believe that sharing my experiences with others  would help me track my progress accurately and motivate me more. But let me tell you how it all started…

fatloss1Exactly 1 month ago I visited my doctor to pick up the results of some tests I had undergone the week before. Upon entering her office, she sat at her desk with my file in front of her. Her facial expression revealed that the tests were no good. She told me quite frankly that with my current weight and lifestyle, my life expectancy was at best 10 years. I stared blankly at her. I just turned 44 last autumn. I couldn’t be dying before i retired, could I? She pointed out that my weight (152 kg at that time) was putting my heart and other organs under severe strain.  After another 30 minutes of going through gloomy predictions, she handed me the number of a dietitian. “You have to lose at least 50 kg.”, was the last thing she said.

I had my first appointment with the dietitian 2 days later. We immediately started working on a plan to help me lose weight in a sustainable manner. He wanted me to start walking at least 4km per day. No sugar beverages anymore, but green tea and water. The menu was mainly consisting of:  lots of vegetables, wholegrain rice or pasta and lean meat and fish. We made up a menu for the coming week and he even printed me the shopping list. On my way home i stopped at the supermarket to buy groceries. When I got home, I cleaned out my fridge and tossed away all unhealthy food, which was kind of all there was in there (at least according to my dietitian). Bottles fatloss2of coke, potato chips, frozen pizzas, bags of frozen French fries and other snacks to fry… They all went into the garbage bin. Although I was motivated to lose weight, I wasn’t fully convinced I would be able to get through the day without my bottle of coke. That day I went for my first long walk. Although I walked at a moderate pace, my knees started hurting halfway through. I was used to sitting in my car, in my couch or at my desk. The longest walk I took on most days was the one from the car to the elevator that took me to my office on the 32nd floor. I had a deeply relieving feeling when it popped into my head that the dietitian could have demanded that I used the stairs instead of the elevator.

The first week went better than expected. Although I did experience the withdrawal effects of sugar, my motivation was high and my family, friends and colleagues were aware of my plan to lose weight and supported me. I kept to the diet and managed to cook healthy meals every day, although it did sometimes take willpower to do so, especially when I had to work long hours. I even started enjoying my daily walk. At a 10 minutes driving distance from my home, there is a small fatloss3lake and I went all the way to that place every afternoon. It was actually quite relaxing. Sometimes, I listened to music or an audio book. I got myself a couple of audio books on World War II history (that used to be one of my reading passions in the past, but about which I completely forgot when I began working extra hours) to catch up with the latest discoveries and studies on the subject.

A month has passed since I was forced to change my lifestyle. I kept losing weight; I weigh 145 kg now, which means I lost 7 kilos in one month. Even with these satisfying results, it is still challenging at times, I admit. At work, I sometimes feel envy when I see my colleagues eating candy bars and drinking soda from the vending machine. Apparently it doesn’t make them fat. But all in all, I know I am fighting for my life now and I am aware that if it wasn’t for this decision I would probably enjoy my every afternoon audio books in a hospital bed.