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”
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.
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.
- Diet is the key to losing weight
- 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
- Diet and increased physical activity through lifestyle changes is better than diet with structured vigorous physical activity, ie gym