Tag Archives: diet

How to maintain good diet and keep it that way

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If you have read my earlier blog, I’m on a mission to build a better me in 2020. This is not by choice but something that I have to do for myself and my family. There are two very important persons (my wife and my daughter) in my life who I adore dearly and I made personal commitment that I will be there for them whenever they need me.

One of my goals to achieve that is eat healthy. However, that is not an easy feat consider that we are inundated with fast and convenient food. And both of these food are neither healthy nor beneficial to us if we want to eat healthy. While most packaging would state the fact that they contain the necessary nutrients and minerals for our healthy lifestyle they are just of part of their marketing efforts. Of course all of us will continue to consume these food because they are “convenient” and I’m no different.

The big question is how do we maintain a healthy diet and keep it that way? Many people have tried but most have failed to maintain the diet. Hence, big companies that are in the dietary industry understand this and will continue to use this weakness to benefit from us. These companies are not interested in getting any of us thin and healthy; they are only interested in the bottom line of the company.

I have my own successes and failures. Thus, I am not in the position to tell everyone that my methods will guarantee that you will lose weight. Most of these are common sense and you may have already read about them. This blog is just to reiterate and reemphasize some of the key points.

Set Achievable SMART Goals

Don’t set goals that are so far that you will not be able to reach. Or don’t set a goal that is so vague that there is no way for you to measure if you are successful. I highly recommend that you set a SMART goal that continue to update as you go along. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound. Many people have a new year resolution to lose weight. To achieve that goal they commit to join a gym and at least go there once a week. While these goals seem appropriate, there is nothing to measure if it is successful. I suggest the following goal: lose 5 pounds in the first month and commit to have active workout for 5 hours the first week. As you completed the first goal, set the next goal by increasing the difficulty gradually.

Commitment

Commitment is required to ensure that you are on track to meet the SMART goal. It is easy to set a goal and then forget about it. Many of us (including myself) tend to find excuses not to make the commitment. Similar to setting a SMART goal, you need to keep reminding yourself the importance to stick to the goal. There are several ways that I find work really well for me:

  • Look at the mirror everyday – Some people are conscious of how they look and stop using the mirror. This actually has a negative impact on how we feel about ourselves. Use a full size mirror to gauge your progress. A mirror can determine if there are any changes in your body and if there are any areas that you will need to target.
  • Think about someone you care – Dieting is not only for yourself, you need to remind yourself who you are dieting for. Thinking about other than yourself will help you prioritize your goals. As an example, I always think of my daughter because I keep reminding myself that I want to look at my best when I hand her to her future husband when she gets married. And I want to be there for her when she needs me.

Resist Temptation

Food is a necessary evil. We require food to sustain our well-being. At the same time food can also kill us if we have too much of it. Caveman in the pre-historic age only knew how to hunt and eat. Cooking was never in the vocabulary. However, over the last several century human became curious with the food and start experimenting different kind of food and taste. Instead of calling it food we began to call it cuisine. Chef became a profession and his main job is to make the food tasty and enticing. Before heart disease became a number one killer, no one thought that food could kill.

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When food is tasty we could never get too much of it. To maintain a healthy diet we need to be able to resist the temptation of eating it. If you are allowed to eat one slice of bacon, can you resist yourself from eating the second slice? How do you control how much you can eat? One of the best ways that I find work really well for me is to remind myself how bad the food is if I eat it. Eating the bacon is great but I would tell myself how much salt and fat in that slice and if I continue to eat it I will need go to the gym for another extra two hours to burn it off.

Eat Small Portion

All-you-can-eat buffet is perhaps one of the worst restaurant that was ever invented. When you go into one of these buffets you are encourage to gorge yourself because you already paid of the meal. Our natural response is we want to get our money worth by eating as much as possible. Unfortunately, our body is a machine that can only synthesize that much food and convert it into energy that our body requires to function. When we take in too much food, our body will continue to break down the food and will store the energy as fat when the energy is no longer required. To top it off we as human has become less active and we use less energy. This compound the problem as more fat continue to be stored.

The better option is to eat less but more often. One way to do it is use smaller plate during meal. This will trick our sense to eat certain portion instead of filling a large plate. We need to have strong will to keep our appetite in check instead of continue to satiate our desire for more food. Sometimes I find this very hard to do especially when I am having a good meal with my family.

Choose wisely

There are certain food that tastes bad but it is good for our overall health. And there are those food that is so good that you cannot eat just one, but you know that eating more could have detrimental health issue. For example, eating steamed vegetables is not the most exciting food to eat when compared to eating 5 sticks of bacon. Obesity has become a number one problem in the US is because of this reason. People tend to choose something that they like instead of something that is good for them.

Make Sacrifice

This is perhaps one of the most difficult things to do when you are on a diet. The sacrifice I am referring to is you can look at the food but you can’t touch it. I remember very well that when I went on a cruise with my family there was so much good food on the cruise. I kept reminding myself that I had to eat healthy and did not eat the food my kids were eating. Instead of choosing the steak, I opt for the fish. Now I learn to look at my kids enjoying the food while I stick with greens and fish.

Avoid Certain Food at All Cost

Nowadays you can see all kinds of warning labels on our food. Not only that many food companies started to add all kinds of food preservatives and chemicals that were intended to preserve the food but became a toxin to us. Food can be tasty but they contains compounds that could cause problems to our health and kill us.

Another type of food that everyone should avoid is food laden with sugar. Sugar is perhaps one of the greatest discovery of mankind. It was originally discovered that sugar can make disgusting food palatable. However, overtime sugar became the main ingredient to make food tasty and appealing. Soon doctors and nutritionists found that sugar is the main cause of diabetes and obesity in America.

Plan Ahead

I can’t stress this enough. Preparing a meal requires a lot of planning; we should use this opportunity to plan what we want to eat. Instead of eating the fatty or calories loaded food, plan to include vegetables in the meal. If you plan to go on a vacation, plan ahead of what type of meals you want to eat. Can you afford to eat Bar-B-Que restaurants or would it better to eat something light at a Sushi restaurant? All these planning will help us to choose better without any regrets. Whenever I cook for the family I make sure there are greens on our dinner table and chicken white meat. If there is no chicken, I always replace it with fish instead of red meat.

Dieting is hard. What I suggest above have work well for myself and family. There is no magic bullet when it comes to successful dieting. If you have to ask me what is the key to success I have to say commitment is key. Without commitment all the planning and goals you set for yourself will be for nothing.

One Small Step, the Kaizen Way to Maintain Diet

I recently started reading a book by Dr. Robert Maurer, a psychologist and kaizen expert. The title of the book is called One Small Step Can Change Your Life. Obviously the title of the book caught my attention and as a self proclaimed “continuous improvement” buff I just couldn’t resist myself and bought the book. I was curious as to what I could learn from this book.

Before I begin, I want to confess that I have not finished the book but upon reading the kaizen concept, I was intrigue. According to Wiki, the Japanese word kaizen means “change for better” and the word refers to any improvement, one-time or continuous, large or small. This was a method used by Japanese businesses after World War II to improve on their processes, influenced in part by American business and quality-management teachers.

Dr. Maurer book essentially provide a guide on how to ease into new habits—and turning your life around. He basically list several steps to steadily build confidence and make insurmountable-seeming goals attainable. So why am I bringing this up today as part of dieting? Well, for the large part majority of us who tried many dieting programs and failed, the kaizen way will likely help and may to achieve the impossible.

Before going over how kaizen can help, let’s look at why most of us failed in losing weight. Most of us would look at the mirror and feel “big” and bloated. And most of us are always looking for the magic pill to help us remove all the fat and feel fit again. The truth is there is no magic pill and even if there is, the likelihood to attain the perfect weight is risky (remember fen-phen, the magical diet drugs?). Also, to achieve the perfect weight requires a lot more effort than just sitting on the couch.

One of the method that I’ve seen many tried is using the “Big Bang” method. Big bang refers to sudden change in behavior and body chemistry. This involves drastic method in losing weight such as go under the knife or ingesting drugs. This method is usually effective short term. Our body is a well oiled machine and will adjust itself to the change and begin to resist the change. Over time, our body will begin to fall back to its old self. That’s why you hear those stories how one could lose weight one day and gain back the weight the next day.

The kaizen way basically helps us control the diet slowly and consistently until our body starts to adjust to the change slowly. Essentially, to be effectively in controlling the diet is to take small steps that you are comfortable with. Below are some of the steps that I believe may help.

Reduce Sugar Intake One Can a Day

I can’t say enough how sugar is perhaps one of the worst inventions of mankind. Over the last 50 years, sugar has single handedly caused obesity and all kinds of disease. Americans are infatuated with sugar. Many rely on Coke as their preferred choice of drink. Other drinks such as the gourmet coffee from Starbucks are loaded with sugar too. The convenience food that we buy from supermarket has no shortage of sugar either. The question is how do you reduce the intake of sugar effectively – one-day-at-a-time. Start the kaizen way by having one less coke a day; or stop eating one less Oreo cookie. Over time you would have achieve the impossible by removing sugar from your diet.

Add Exercise Routine Slowly

Exercising is extremely important, particularly for those who are at risk of heart disease. And a large percentage of people who are obese are in this category. However, if you ask these people to start exercising is like asking them to climb Mount Everest. Not only that they are incapable to make the climb, they are likely going to injure themselves. The kaizen way I am proposing is to start slow and keep adding new routine every other day. As an example, instead of running 5K on a treadmill, maybe start walking for 5 minutes. Two days later add another 5 minutes. In two weeks time, start running for 5 minutes. In 6 months you should be able to run 30 minutes non-stop.

Add a SMART Goal Every Month

It is impossible to have a 6-pack abs in a year if are overweight. Trust me, I tried. It takes time and effort and a lot of commitment. Instead of setting the bars so high up, let’s set a goal that is easily achievable. For the New Year resolution, start a goal by reducing drinking a soda. A week later, add another goal on top of the first one. Perhaps stop buying soda altogether and replace all sugary drink with tea.

Celebrate Achievements the Kaizen Way

How do you continue to ensure that you are on track to meet your goals? How do you continue to motivate yourself? By celebrating as you reach the milestones. Instead of just looking at the major goal, try celebrating each milestones. The kaizen way is simply document each achievements. Other option is to list all the achievements on the board so it is visible. Not only that is a great motivation, it will help in ensuring that you are on the right track.

Kaizen is a method that is used by many companies to achieve continuous improvement. Without the kaizen way, the Japanese automakers today would not be where they are. They continue to strive to improve their products and over the last several decades, Japanese automakers are perhaps the top tiers in terms of reliability. I believe this method is well suited for anyone who is challenged in meeting their diet goals. Start small but be consistent; success could be achieved over the long run.

Getting Fit Journey (day 60 – 130)

It has been a while since I provided any updates on my journey to get fit. The current pandemic of corona virus (COVID-19) really has a profound effect on my plan. The unprecedented event is causing such a disruption on everyone’s life that the population of the entire world was brought down to their knees.

Thankfully my family remains healthy. No one from our immediate family were infected by the virus. We were fortunate enough take early precaution once we found out New York and New Jersey started to see spike in infections. We pray for those who were impacted by the family, especially those who lost their loved ones to this horrible virus.

Since early March I was fortunate enough to work from home. When the media began reporting the onset of early infection, the company that I work for initiated business continuity plan. Originally 2/3 of the employees would work remotely and the rest to work in the city. As the virus began to spread within 2 weeks, all 90% of the employees would be working remotely.

Early Plan

Originally I planed to continue with my diet plan and workout regime since going to the nearby gym was no longer possible. I thought that I would be working remotely and I will have enough time to continue with my workout plan. Unfortunately, that did not work out the way I wanted.

Staying indoors and avoid any outside contact are easy. However, there is the question of what to eat while staying at home 24/7. Not only that I have to feed myself, I have to constantly thinking of feeding the family of 5. My family would need to eat 3 meals a day for 7 days a week. From a week becomes a month. Now we are hitting the 3rd month. Most of my time was spent on thinking about grocery and food. I no longer have the luxury of thinking about my diet because it is no longer possible to keep 2 types of diets (one for family and one for myself) in these dire times.

What Changed

Staying indoors does not mean more time. I spend majority of my time working and thinking anout food. Since going to the gym is no longer possible continue with my workout plan was out of the question. I skipped doing strength training. Instead, I spend most of my time working on my abs and running on my treadmill.

My diet plan included removing all processed food, “white” ingredients such as rich and flour and red meat. Instead I started to consume these food in moderation. The positive side of eating at home is we are eating less of the processed food.

The Results

Thankfully I have not gained weight. I have lost 22 pound since I started my journey and my BMI has also dropped from 23 to 22 which is normal for my age. I was really surprised by the results because I reduced my workout and started consume the “forbidden” food. I believe this could be attributed to several habits that I continue to follow:

  • Eat at the same schedule – I do not starve myself but I continue to follow the same 3 meals a day and I eat them at the same time. Breakfast at 9 am, lunch at 1 pm and dinner at 6:30 pm. This will help my body to adapt and metabolize the food appropriately.
  • Eat in moderation – I continue to keep eating the same portion every meal. I do not “stuff” myself until I am full.
  • Eat smart – While I have started to some of the food that I swear I will never eat again, there are still some food that I do not eat. For example snacks such as chips which has no nutritional value or chicken wings which contain mostly fat.
  • Drink water and tea – I continue to drink tea in most of my meal. I rarely drink sugary drink such as juices. One a while I may drink tea with sugar but only on special occasion. Again, moderation is key.

I know the points I raised above work well for me and may not work for everyone. How do you keep healthy in this unprecedented time? What has worked or not worked for you? I’m eager to hear from you.

Thank you for reading and do come back as I provide further updates on my journey.

Getting Fit Journey 2020 (day 1-10)

Every year our family goes to our doctor for our physical and blood work. Probably like everyone we all dread that moment: the moment the doctors tell us that something is wrong.

Every year I hate that moment. I feel great but just like a book and a cover, we can’t tell what is inside. Sadly, my blood work came back not as ideal as I would like. Instead of improving my overall health my internals have actually gotten worse. I thought that if I go to gym 4 days a week would help and apparently I was wrong.

So I took inventory of what I’ve done and found several shortcomings and that I intend to correct the wrongs. This blog would be considered my journal entries as I demonstrate what works and what doesn’t. Obviously this is only my view and the results are mine alone – it may not work for everyone. Before joining any exercise regime, it is best knowing your limit and consult with the doctors.

The questions that I have to answer myself is what I’ve done wrong, so wrong that instead of improving I went the other way. The real answer is age and there are several factors that contribute the problem. I noticed that my age (I’ll be 50) is stopping me from progressing. Like all machinery, my body starts to break down and can longer compete with younger generation. And that means that I will need to work 10 times harder than my son who is 30 days younger than I am.

The answer to all of this requires personal commitment. To achieve the goals it needs a lot of commitment and a lot of sacrifice and I’m setting my sights to do just that. After considering my personal lifestyle there are several things I need to change.

Maintaining My Diet

Breakfast for the mind and soul

I was always carefree when it comes to eating. I felt that I was relatively healthy that I can eat what I want. However, I realized that I was wrong because my blood results show that I’m pre-diabetic and high fat content in my blood. The first thing that I changed was removing all animal fat and eat only high fiber food. Besides that I eat more nuts and fruit. Another thing that I changed drastically is removing dietary supplement (i.e. protein, BCAA and any pre-workout powder). For the last 2 weeks, my diet is consist of the following:

  • Breakfast – oatmeat with nut and dried fruit, coffee
  • Lunch – garden salad with grilled chicken or fish
  • Snack – tea and nuts
  • Dinner – baked salmon with vegetable or steamed chicken and broccoli

Exercise More

I always hated running and focused mostly on increasing muscle mass. Additionally, I took in dietary supplement. It resulted in increased weight gain. So I made a commitment to exercise more and spend more time running. For the past two weeks I spend half of my time using elliptical machine and running.

The Results

After over 10 days changing my lifestyle, I’m happy to announce that I see differences in my body. While I don’t feel relatively stronger or more energy, I have lost over 9 lbs. I can run more than 30 minutes non-stop.

Follow along with my journey to be a better me. I would like to hear from you too to know what works well and what doesn’t. It would also be great that you subscribe to my blog as this will help me tremendously that I know I am doing something right to help others.