Tag Archives: weight loss

Why Diet is More Important than Exercise!

The Covid-19 pandemic has a tremendous impact on everyone across the world. It is unfortunate for those who lost their lives to this horrible virus. It also upended a lot of lives for those who are still living.

I have been fortunate that I was able to continue to support my family by working remotely. This was as a result of how my company, HSBC, tackles the pandemic in the most unusual way. With the exception of those on the retail bank and the back-end system support, almost 99% of the employees were sent home to work.

Obviously, this also has impact on my family lives. Prior to the pandemic, all of us have all kinds of activities outside of our home. One of them is going to gym to get the required exercise. With the onset of the infection, everything was shut down including our township gym. Now that everything has been easing, the gym began to open up last year.

Since the early 2020 I stopped going to the gym and one of my biggest worries is that I will not be able to continue with my fitness routine. The net effect was I would gain weight and started to lose muscle mass that I worked so hard for.

Earlier this month as the Omnicron variant of the Covid-19 began to subside, I started going to the gym again. Immediately I noticed that I did not lose much of my muscle mass. The only problem is my muscle was not able to do the intense exercise that I used to do. It appears that I would need to retrain my muscle again. After a few sessions I was able to regain 80% of the muscle power I lost.

I started to ponder the question if going to the gym was useful. Don’t get me wrong, getting enough exercise will help in many ways. But if we are stuck in the bind as it clearly demonstrated in the last 2 years, getting the exercise may not that important.

In the 2 years working at home I rarely go out to get the required exercise. Twice a week I would spend a total of 2 hours working on my core. The rest of the time I spent in front of the laptop and eating.

I knew from beginning that I would have to change my lifestyle dramatically. Being passive at home can have major negative impact on my health. With that in mind I made sure that I continue to eat healthy. I am not a believer of sticking to the green or non-carbohydrate diet. I am a believer of balance diet.

For the past 2 years I would cook for the family using the balance concept. Every meal will have some green vegetables, rice for carbohydrate, and one or two portion of white meat. Once a week we will have red meat such as beef. The most important of all is to cut down on sugar intake. Other than juices for my kids, my beverage options are coffee, tea and water.

The results speak for themselves. My blood test results did not show any negative spike and my weight has been constant. Additionally, I did not experience any lack of energy in the 2 years cooped at home.

While this is in no way a scientific proven claim, my personal experience showed that a proper diet is way more important that having completed 6 hours of gym every week.


Avoid Protein Supplement When Workout

Should you take this?

Have you ever seen those photos of fitness stars with chiseled body? And have you ever wished that you could achieve the same as you start working out? I know I was.

Three years ago as I started joining the local gym I started to look at other ways to achieve the dream body. Naturally I went with supplement nutrition to speed up the process. One of the most common supplements is the protein supplement. They usually come in powder form when you just add water. Mix it well and just drink it.

After a year of workout and consuming the supplement I realized that I feel myself a lot stronger and heavier. Looking at the mirror I realized that I look more buff. Unfortunately, that was the image I see on the outside. On the inside is a different story.

When I went to my doctor for my annual physical I was told that my blood results are less than ideal. Even though I look healthy on the outside my organs such as liver and kidneys are not. During the entire year of working out I did not change my diet other than adding protein supplement.

After realizing how the protein supplement has a negative side effect on my body I decided to stop using it. It has been 2 years since I last using protein supplement my blood test results have return back to normal. While I can’t be conclusive if the protein supplement is actually causing health side effects my quick experiment definitely suggest this hypothesis.

I am not a nutritionist and I am not here to make any recommendations. However, if you are new to working out and if you want to maintain a healthy diet I would suggest avoiding any health supplement such as protein powder. Looking at the ingredients, most protein powder contains sucralose and other artificial ingredients which are bad for our body. And as for nutrition facts, it contains high amount of calories and ingredients that may cause increase in cholesterol.

In addition to the above there are news where several bodybuilders who died from too much protein. One of them was a bodybuilder who died from protein overdose. And there are others such as a bodybuilder who died unexpectedly. While it is inconclusive, here is another bodybuilder who died in her sleep. All of these individuals were relatively healthy and they probably consume a lot of the protein powder to supplement their workout regime.

In my further research, there is an article that talks about the serious side effects of protein powder. This article also answers some of the side effects that I experienced.

If you are working out I suggest that you rely on the natural food and the diet to provide you the necessary nutrition. Adding supplements such as protein powder may help but we need to be careful as the ingredients in this supplements may be toxic and cause problems in the long run.

Simple 10 Minutes Lunch

One of the biggest challenges working remotely is to make lunch everyday for the family. There comes a time when I just run out of idea.

Here is an idea if you run out of options. Simple, inexpensive and just take 10 minutes. Baked ham and tater tots, a mini croissant, sweet corn with light butter, an over easy egg and home grown fresh cucumber. And finally a cup of Earl Grey tea. Believe it or not, this is quite fulfilling and not heavy.

Why is it so Difficult to Lose Weight

I would be lying if I say losing weight is like a walk in the park. All of us know full well the it is like putting on a battle gear and facing off a formidable giant. However, like David and the Goliath, you just need to find the achilles heel.

I have been trying to lose weight for the past several years. I am by no means overweight but I need to maintain my diet due to my overall health condition. I can tell you that it u is not easy. There are too many temptations and too many convenient food around us.

My wife is a fitness instructor for the seniors and sometimes it seems she is also fighting a losing battle. In the past year she actually gained weight instead of losing it even though she teaches virtual fitness classes. On the other hand I was able to maintain my weight even though I sit at my desk working virtually. Why?

After giving much thought I believe there are a few reasons and all of them are due to motivation and personal drives.


My wife’s weakness is her love of chicken wings and snacks. Given the opportunity she could eat a few of each. On the other hand I consciously avoid eating these food because of high saturated fat and low healthy contents. While I don’t deny that I like certain foods fall in these categories I vehemently avoid them at all cost.

Activities that Pay

Once every two days I would use the elliptical machine and focus on working out my arms and abs. My wife is an instructor who mainly focus on aerobic exercises which is good for the heart and breathing. She is not strong on arms or abs. To effectively loose weight we need to have both aerobic and strength exercises.

Be Conscious of Self

Knowing that you are overweight is really the main driver in losing weight. Looking and the mirror and realizing there is a problem will help with the motivation. Some people who knows they are overweight make conscious decisions not to have mirrors in the house. I personally would use the mirror and tend to focus on getting the six pack and I realize that the journey is far from over.

We’ve been thought that we should never fight a losing battle. However, if we equip ourselves with the right tools and with the right mindset nothing is impossible. The real question how driven are we in losing the weight.

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 2020 (day 26 – 59)

It has been a while since I last posted my progress and that was due to my excuses of not having time. Also I’ve been busy getting my house extension ready. Now my house is done I no longer have any excuses to not post anything. And if you are wondering if I have given up the answer is no.

Let’s get to the results first. I’ve started with 169 lbs at the beginning of the year with 14% body fat. At the end of end of February my weight dropped to 156 lbs with 12.3% body fat. As of early March, my weight is at 154 lbs and at 12.6% body fat. That is a 15 lbs drop over 7 weeks.

Current progress of getting fit journey

The big question is what has changed physically and mentally? I definitely noticed that my mid-section has slimmed down quite a bit. From 36 inch waist at the beginning of the year to 32 inch. Also I noticed that the abs muscle are more visible particularly on the gut. I hardly noticed that I feel any more tired before starting on this journey because now I am able to run on a treadmill for 30 minutes are about 2.5 miles.

Mentally is challenging because I need to be aware of what I could eat or not eat. Other than dealing with daily to-dos and priorities I feel mentally capable to continue with the journey. There was one thing I changed during the last month and that was relaxing what food to eat.

I used MyFitness Pal app to track what I ate in February and noticed that I’ve not been eating enough – I continue to have calorie deficit and that could put my health in danger. Additionally, my goal is to be fit not losing 40 lbs or more. That changed my attitude towards what food to eat.

While I continue to exclude processed food, sugary drink and red meat from my diet I’ve started to eat whole wheat bread and brown rice. I continue to limit the portion of my meal to a reasonable amount without jeopardizing my health. Luckily the changes that I implemented did not have a negative impact on my weight and I have been able to continue to reduce my weight gradually.

One of the things I continue to do is maintain my exercise routine. I spend at least 3 or 4 times a week at my local gym running and weight training. I have been able to maintain a steady pace running on a treadmill and spend at least 30 minutes on weights.

My goal for body fat is between 8 to 10% of my body weight. Reviewing my results above I find that the ratio between weight and body are not equal. It will be interesting how I am able to achieve that percentage body while not dropping my weight so drastically. I’m not a professional athlete not I have 2 hours to spare everyday working out. Achieving this goal maybe hard to reach and only time will tell.

What works best for you? Let me know in the comments below.

Until next time as I continue to face an uphill battle.

Getting Fit Journey 2020 (day 11 -25)

My journey started on the right track and I was happy the first 2 weeks when I realized that I lost 9 lbs. I continued to do what I did and hope that I would continue to lose more weight and build more muscles. However, I am a pessimist person and I understand that there is no miracle when it comes to diet and losing weight.

What are the results since the last update? I’ve actually gained about 3 lbs since then. While it seems a lot, but I think it is acceptable as long as I continue to keep my diet in check and I continue to go to gym. There are a few measurements that I use to make sure I’m on the right track. One of the best thing that everyone should invest in is smart bathroom weight scale, which connects to your phone. Most of them are priced around $50 and it is definitely a must. There are 3 important measurements that I look at very closely, weight, BMI and body fat. Another measurement that I track very closely is muscle mass. My current body fat is around 13 – 14%, and my goal is to bring it down to less than 8% by end of the year.

My son who has less body fat than I do…

There is a BIG misconception that if one goes to gym and exercise, the pounds will start dropping. I’ve seen times and times again that many failed and they give up. For example, the gym that I go to is ran by my town and for the last month I’ve seen a big increase in attendance. And I can guarantee that the attendance will drop by half in the next two months. And by June, it will just trickle down to just a few. To successful lose weight, exercise is important but having proper diet is more important.

I’ve reduced the portion that I usually eat by a third and I was worried that I may go hungry most of the time. I thought that I would feel weak and would continue to look for food. Surprisingly I was able to adapt without any problems. Instead of stuffing myself to feel comfortable and full, now I feel satisfied. I don’t feel any craving and able to keep pace with my daily struggles. I don’t feel any less energy and I’m able to sleep without feeling hungry.

I’ve gained some weight the last two weeks is a fact. The question is why… In reviewing my diet and my habits, there are a few things that I may need to change. I noticed that I inadvertently increase my portion during breakfast and lunch. While I’ve removed processed food from my diet, particularly anything “white”, there are a few food items that I couldn’t resist such as Youtiao, Chinese fried crullers.

Removing everything from my diet may sometime has unexpected consequences. Luckily, I had not had any complications in my health. One option that I will employ is to track what I eat for the next several months. Gradually I will remove certain food items from my diet to see if there are any changes in my health and weight. I’m not a big proponent of calorie counting because everyone is different. The guidance that everyone should limit to a number of calorie is very misleading. One can take in less calorie but may continue to have health problems. For example, everyone knows that sugary drinks such as sodas are very bad. Substituting these drinks with no calorie sodas does not mean they are not any better. Most of these drinks substitute sugar with saccharin, which is known to cause health problems. There is a study that it may be an agent of cancer.

I still have a long way to go before I achieve my ideal weight and health. While at times I feel giving up because work and life may take over my day to day priorities. I continue to be driven and have never given up going to gym and eat healthier. I will document my journey to a better me and hope that you will follow along.