How I Lost 30lbs in 6 Months

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REAL BEFORE AND AFTER
Life Changing Moment

Being a young married man, a father of two, and resident physician on the verge of contracting High Blood Pressure, Diabetes or High Cholesterol knew something had to be done immediately. Fortunately, I came across a few medical articles that stated effective weight loss centered on diet and sustained with physical activity. (1-4)In other words, diet is the center of all weight lost plans. More importantly I discovered 3500 calories was the equivalent of 1 lb of body fat. Implying, if I could cut 500 calories a day, in 7 days which is 1 week I could cut 3500 calories.  This implied I could easily drop a pound a week. This was great! I then went on an “operation cut 500 calories a day”

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To start with I had to let go all my candies, cookies, chips, ice cream, fast foods, juices, sodas and the like. I called them ‘insensible sources of empty calories.” By doing just that I was able to cut anywhere from 200-250 calories a day, which was half of my daily target. I then turned my attention to the Ghanaian dishes. To my surprise these food items came in with huge amounts of calories. One ball of Kenkey could go anywhere from 1400 to 1600 calories. My rice serving was measuring about 1000 calories, my typical serving of Ghana bread which was about 4 slices was 600 calories. The surprise list went on and on. The good news however was since the meals were so high in calories cutting down was going to be easy. For instance I cut my rice in half and just by that I saved myself 500 calories. Consuming two thirds of my Kenkey was going to save me another 500 calories. Substituting 4 slices of Ghana bread with two slices of Nature’s Own whole wheat bread was going to save me yet another 500 calories. Well it turned out instead of 500 calories; I could easily cut 1000-1500 calories out of my diet. To make up for the hunger sensation that came with the caloric reduction, I increased my fruits and vegetable intake. A whole bowl of spinach brought in only 30 calories, a cup of strawberries is about 50 calories. The more impressive truth was the fiber content in fruits the fruits and vegetables gave me a sense of fullness which prevented me from pouncing on the rice or kenkey.

 

The rest of the Story

I also did a few other smart things such as avoiding late night eating, especially my Honey Bunches of Oats cereal. Again since I knew I was not going to go to the gym I made an effort to increase my physical activity through the simplest things such as increasing the pace of my steps when walking. I found out that this provided me with 15-20 minutes of good physical activity each day which is equivalent to the amount of physical activity recommended by the American Heart Association.  I also took the stairs for 3 floors above or below. I will park my car farther from the super market and walk briskly to the store. Finally I took advantage of being in a Pentecostal church where singing and dancing are integral aspects of the worship. I am the first to get on the dancing floor and I danced joyously throughout the whole praise section. I took my wife’s calorimeter to church one Sunday and by the time I made it back home I had expended a whooping 700 calories!

The final results

These simple steps, albeit small, added up to something great. Today, I can proudly announce my weight is 178-180lb, a good 30lb less from 6 months ago. My body mass index (BMI) has dropped from 32 which is the midpoint of obesity to 27 which for a man with a fair amount of muscles may be considered normal. My waist size has gone back to my Ghana waist of 34 inches. The more impressive thing is I have been able to keep off the weight with no desire of regaining it. Now my portion sizes has decreased significantly, I completely avoid the ice cream refrigerators in Walmart, I go to McDonald’s as an option of last resort, kenkey and fufu are limited almost to nonexistent, and my fruits and vegetables intake have gone up significantly. I always thank God for the knowledge and discipline to change my life in this drastic way.

The Challenge

I am challenging everyone reading this article to give this method a try and they will be amazed at the results. The method is simple, cut 500 calories a day, increase your physical activity, increase your fruits and vegetable intake and you will be on your way to a healthier and longer life.

Thank you and God bless you on this journey.

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References

  1. Diet is the key to losing weight

http://www.nchpad.org/907/5029/Clarifying~the~Role~of~Physical~Activity~on~Weight~Loss

  1. Physical Activity alone does not lead to significant weight loss http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12760445?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum
  1. Diet and increased physical activity through lifestyle changes is better than diet with structured vigorous physical activity, ie gym

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9929086?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

 

 

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How I Gained 50lb in 12 years

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REAL BEFORE AND AFTER

How I gain 50 lb in 12 years… The story of an African young man in America.

Like most African men, I came to America as a skinny 160 lb dark-skinned young man, full of life and zeal.  Upon arrival to the States, the most common advice one receives is to eat to gain weight and use good lotion to improve your skin tone. As far as I was concerned no amount of lotion was going to help my skin as a result I gave up on the latter advice. The first one however was very easy to keep.

 

Mickey D’s and Wal-mart Experience

 

mcComing from a place where we ate chicken on special occasions such as Christmas, and had ice cream by the divine provision of God, America was the perfect description of a land flowing with milk and honey. I remember my first visit to Walmart and seeing refrigerators full of ice creams, yogurt, shakes and several other dairy products. I stood in disbelief at the variety and their affordability. Ten containers of yogurt were selling for 3 dollars! And of course, I got all ten. I also could not resist the tantalizing whole chicken being roasted over open flames, especially when it was selling for under $5. Roasted chicken and ice chilled coca cola was my favorite staple. I loved ice cream, cookies, candies (toffee) and of course McDonalds. I remember fumbling through my first order to find out I received a burger, fries, ketchup and a drink. I said to myself, “I think they gave me too much.” Well it turned out that was the typical serving. Even more impressive was the fact that if I went into the restaurant, I could get unlimited refills on my drink. This kind of life seemed completely unreal but that was the reality, and I loved it!

 

The “Rich” Young Man

The Ghanaian dishes were no exception to my American experience. In Ghana having a lot of meat on your plate was a sign of great wealth or social prominence. Well it turned out I could enjoy this cultural designation of wealth without actually being wealthy. I became a carnivore overnight. I loved beef in all of it varieties at the store. Back home in Ghana, I had to kill the chicken myself, take it through a gruesome cleaning process and cut it up for use. Here someone has been kind enough to cut up the chicken and package my favorite part, the drum sticks. All I needed was salt and an oven and my drum sticks came out smoking.

Another one of my favorite delicacies was Kenkey, (Cooked corn dough). The Ghanaian Kenkey in America was so soft and so rich in texture how could I deny indulging in such greatness! Even more amazing was my my kenkey supplier was a fellow church member and so every other Sunday I would stock up two weeks’ worth of this amazement! Oh and life couldn’t  get better with fufu. I was quite convinced the fufu flour was one of the best inventions ever. As a typical Ashanti man who loved his fufu not having to boil and pound was just too convenient! Of course I struggled with the soup initially but as long as I had enough meat I counted it all a blessing.

 

 

Then Came the Weight

God indeed blessed me with “good” food but He did not leave out the weight. Within a year I had gained 20 lbs, my waist size had gone from 34 to 36 inches. With the weight gain, came endless praise. Everyone who saw me related how good I was looking to the extra weight I had gained. When my family saw my new pictures they were full of praise, for God had “blessed” me. Within 3 years I had a pot-belly. Yes in my late 20’s my abdomen was already ahead of me. When people made comments about my belly being too big my initial response was “Nyame ehyira mi,” (God has blessed me) or “eye sike fuo” (It is the belly of wealth).

Unfortunately the excuses did not undo the reality. My suits were getting too tight, my pants will crawl up my thighs into the most awkward places and I completely avoided wearing shirt and pants because it put all my business out there, literally. I resorted to suits and sweaters as they were better at hiding my “wealthy” silhouette.

 

None of the inconveniences however was enough motivation to stop me from eating recklessly or ignorantly. Not even college or medical school where I learned all the health implications of gaining excess weight. In a typical African fashion I completely dismissed the facts, saying my weight has nothing to do with my health. And even if I became ill God was going to heal me.

 

A Good Marriage Didn’t Help Either…

As Africans one of the best ways of saying “I love you” is through food- good food! A good wife is expected to serve her husband the most delicious meal she can cook every day. My wife being a product of the women’s ministry in her local church had adopted this creed. I came home from work every night looking forward to her latest assembly of food. After enjoying her one-in-a million jollof rice, we will always get a nice dessert which was always in our freezer compartment. After supper we will sit around catching up on the days’ events or just watching television. Physical activity had no role in our lives. The weekend was my turn to say “I love you” at the dining table. I went all out from breakfast to supper. My specialty was pancakes, with sausage, bacon and a 4 egg omelet (Kyibom- Fried together). Certainly life was good; I was blessed with good marriage and everything that came with it.

 

The Wake-up Call

The wakeup call came after the birth of my second daughter when I went to the store to get new pair of pants. I had a rude awakening when I could no longer fit into the size 36, I had to get a size 38! The next size after 38 was 40, which implied I would have met one of the criteria for diagnosing metabolic syndrome, a condition which increases the risk of heart disease. When I made it home I decided to get on the scale and again to my utmost surprise read 207.4lb.  I had gained 47.4 pounds since coming to America some 12 years ago!

 

Well, I had to lose weight. There were no questions or excuses at this time. I was quite skeptical initially at first as I was haunted by the idea of going to the gym every day. To complicate issues, as a medical resident and a father of two, I knew I was not going to be able to accommodate the gym with such a busy schedule. Well, I did it anyway. In six (6) months I lost 30lbs and this is how I did it…

Thank you…

 

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Why am I cutting calories but not losing weight?

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  1. “I have a slower metabolism.”

Women especially tend to have lower muscle mass. The average woman has 46lb of muscle and the average man has 72 lbs of muscle. Since muscles consume 7 calories at rest1, men lose weight much more easily compared to women. The way around this for women is to increase their physical activity. Going to the gym, walking, running, forming and joining health groups, etc…

 

  1. “I don’t eat breakfast.”

Breakfast tells your body and your brain it is awake and you should start consuming energy. When you don’t eat breakfast the body is still in conservation mode so it holds on to water and puts the whole body under slow metabolism. With breakfast your entire system wakes up to consuming energy which ultimately leads to weight loss. Avoid high sugar breakfasts though.  Fruit, oats, whole wheat cereal and the like are much better options.

3. “I eat too late”

Eating too late at night has multiple effects on your health including weight gain, increase in acid reflux (Heart Burn), and increase nightly urination. The weight effects follows the same principles eating to meet your caloric needs. At night the body obviously slows down its metabolism. As a result all the extra energy in the food will be stored as fat. Eating during the day  allows most of the energy to be used during a higher metabolic state. The rule of thumb is eat 2-3 hours before sleeping. Other tricks include; 1. Eat before going to evening service. This way you burn most of the calories at church rather than coming home to eat rice and stew then go to sleep. 2. Eat supper before the night shift. This way you avoid eating Kenkey at 2 am or coming home to eat Banku and okra soup in the morning before sleeping. And finally on those nights when you absolutely have to eat something choose wisely. An apple, one banana and peanuts, a cup of strawberries, a salad or egg whites are all smart choices.

4. “I am stressed.”

Stress is a major contributor to weight gain. Under stress our body secretes a hormone known as cortisol. Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, tells the body to hold on to energy and water as an adaptation to the stress. This leads to weight gain and difficulty to lose weight.

 

Stress can come from any source; marital problems, family issues, work and school related problems, and church issues.

 

The solution is improved stress management. In America or the Western world, stress is part of everyday life. We cannot avoid it. The goal is to learn how to deal with it. Here are some coping mechanisms:

 

  1. Let things go.
  2. Enjoy the things you love most: Family and friends.
  3. Take a break: Take a vacation somewhere. Africans for some reason consider that vacations are for white people or for people who don’t have much to do. Vacationing is actually very therapeutic and powerful at helping you de-stress.
  4. Exercise: Working out releases hormones called endorphins. These are known as “feel-good hormones” which can counteract the harmful effects of stress. Besides, you reap all the benefits of increasing physical activity.
  5. Connect with God: Having a meaningful relationship with God is another powerful way of avoiding stress and de-stressing. I find prayer, worship and meditation as potent liberator of my inner being, releasing one of all the entanglements of life.

 

 

  1. “I have a medical condition.”

Certain medical conditions make one vulnerable to weight gain. Conditions such as hypothyroidism, Cushing’s Syndrome and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) are notorious for causing weight gain. Again medications such as steroids (Prednisone, Methylprednisolone, Dexamethasone) lead to water retention which results in weight gain. The solution:  If you have done all the right things such as eating well, increasing physical activity and you are still not losing weight, speak to your doctor.

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Operation Cut 500 calories a day!

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From the previous blog we learned that cutting 500 calories a day is equivalent to 3500 calories a week which is equal to 1 pound of body fat. In other words, you can lose 1 pound a week by cutting 500 calories from your diet everyday for the next 6 months.

For the African, cutting calories is quite easy. Our meals come in  insanely high calories, it is very easy to start cutting down.

Take for instance 1 Ball of a small Ga Kenkey (400g) has a whopping 1440 calories!

Think about it, the total daily requirement is 2000 calories for the average person,  just one ball of Kenkey  is 1440 calories. After adding meat and stew you are tallying between 2000 and 2200 calories. Right, scary…

Kenkey

So by even reducing the Kenkey by 1/3 its size, (cut Kenkey into 3 parts, consume 2 out of the 3 pieces) you can cut out 480 calories easily. By also reducing the amount of the oil in the stew or cutting down on the meat or fish you would have exceeded the 500 calories we are trying to cut.

Even better is to avoid Kenkey as much as possible. Kenkey is a great meal for Ghanaians in Ghana where we walk to the store, the church, and to visit neighbors. In America, or the Western world, our reduced physical activity doesn’t allow us to consume such high caloric meals.

Let’s consider white rice. 1 Cup of cooked rice brings in 240 calories(1 cup dry is 720 calories). The average person can easily consume 4 cups or more of cooked rice, which comes up to 920 calories! The average tomato stew is 250 calories for ¼ of a cup. 1 fried chicken drumstick is 200 calories. The average person goes for two. (By the way, the total protein requirement in a day is the size of two drumsticks…Yes!) So we end up with 400 calories on the chicken and 1570 calories on the meal! Again with that meal we have gotten daringly close to the average of 2000 calories needed in a day.

By cutting the rice down by 2 cups we would have saved 480 calories. And by reducing the amount of oil in the stew by just 1 table spoon per serving we save an extra 600 calories. Well, 600 calories is the equivalent of a man jogging for 1 hr or walking for 2 hrs 30 minutes.

Imagine doing this for 2 or more meals you can easily cut over 100o calories a day.

On our CD/DVD we go through several Ghanaian dishes and how to adjust them to cut 500 to 1000 calories a day while at the same time increasing your fruit and vegetable intake. You can also visit our nutrition center for the calories of almost all Ghanaian dishes. With this tool you can start making the right adjustments.

Understandably, when you start cutting calories you are going to feel hungry at some point during the day. This brings us to a very important point which is increasing the amount of fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts in our daily foods. I call them “hunger breakers.” Always have an apple, a mango, a cup of strawberries, or a Ziploc of blueberries on you. Other options can always be a small bowl of almonds or walnuts. They serve as a much better alternative to cookies and some other “junk food” we use as snacks.

Consuming fruits and vegetables and making them part of your daily life brings untold benefits. For a start their fiber content create a feeling of fullness which cuts down your overall caloric intake from other sources such as rice or corn. Fiber is also known to hold on to sugar and fat molecules preventing their absorption from the gut. By this they decrease the glycemic index of sugars and starches. They decrease bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol. They also protects you against heart disease, stroke and several cancers. Not to mention the antioxidants they bring along which detoxifies your blood, reducing cell damage and inflammation. This ultimately prevents cancers and a myriad of chronic diseases.

Getting on the scale

I recommend an electronic scale where you see the decimals as well.

Now since this method implies you will be losing some weight every day, you will have to get on the scale every morning.

I know this goes against what we know about weight loss. But here is the trick. When you get on the scale every morning you should see some drop in your weight like 0.05 lb.  some little fraction. Sometimes as in my case I could lose about a pound a day depending on how much I cut.

If your weight is not going down on the scale it indicates you did something wrong the day before. You either overate, ate too late or sneaked in some dangerous McD’s or Burger King. This allows you to fix the mistake in a timely manner. Some people recommend getting on the scale in 1-2 weeks. You will have no idea where you went wrong with this.

The Challenge

So here is the challenge to everyone, cut down by 500 to 1000 a day, lose 1-2 pounds a week for 6 to 8 months. You are guaranteed to lose 20 to 30 pounds on just the diet part. Increasing your physical activity will cause you to lose even more calories.

As a caveat, if you are not seeing the needed results you may have other issues playing a role which are addressed in this next article.

Thank you and God be with you on this journey.

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The Secret To Weight Loss | Calories, 500 calories, cutting calories, african food, africas healthy choices

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The million dollar secret to weight loss is to be able to cut 500 calories a day from your diet. That will translate into 3500 calories a week. (500 calories x 7 days in a week = 3500 calories)

Well, it turns out that 3500 calories is equivalent to 1 pound of body fat.

So by losing 3500 calories a week one can safely burn off 1 pound of body fat in 1 week.

This method has been scientifically proven to lead to weight loss without any adverse health consequences. Losing too much weight over a short period of time has been shown to lead to gallstones in women as well as other health problems in both men and women.

This is exactly what I did and in 6 months, I have lost almost 30 lbs. (Of course I increased my physical activity and did a few other simple things which I talk about on my blog)

However the core of this method is the calorie cutting aspect as shown by clinical studies.

That brings us to the next million dollar question which is how to cut out 500 calories a day? Click here to find out how.

Thank you very much and God bless you.

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