Category Archives: Health & Weight Loss

Before And After

Few days ago my brother was showing me some old family photos. While he was flipping through them I stopped him when I saw a photo that shocked me. It was a photo of me three years ago. The first thing that came out of my mouth when I saw it was “I used to look like that?!”. I think you know what I am talking about. It was a photo of me before I lost the weight.

Back then when I was obese I didn’t like my picture taken. After I lost the weight I was confident enough to pose to cameras. I bought a camera on my 20th birthday and I took plenty of photos, but in all of them I was in a healthy shape. I got used to my body like that and that’s why I was shocked when I saw the obese me in that old photo.

Seeing myself changed a lot, inside and outside, after I lost weight made me feel proud that I made the decision of living a healthy life. It was also a reminder of how I used to look and feel back then, and a motivation to keep moving forward and not fall back to the old unhealthy habits. So to all of you who wants to start this journey I suggest you take before and after photos. Being able to see your progress in front of you will push you further towards your weight loss goal.

Wish you all a happy and a healthy life.

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A Month Without Coffee

As I mentioned in the post My Detoxing Experiment, I’ve decided to quit coffee. Today marks the end of my first month without my favorite drink. Since I became totally caffeine free, I thought it might be a good idea to try a cup today to see how it will affect me. Well first, before I tell you what happened I am going to share with you how things went during the past month.

The past month

The reasons why I decided to quit are mentioned in the above post. And how did I quit? I did it Cold turkey. I know it’s not the right way but I just felt like this way would suit me more. The first two weeks were the worst. I am a coffee lover, meaning that I love its aroma in the morning and my breakfast will not be complete without it. I also used to occasionally drink an afternoon cup of Turkish coffee or espresso. I hated the caffeine but I loved the coffee, and since it was a part of it (please don’t even suggest decaf) I had to get used to it. Apparently it affected my body badly, but I was already addicted to coffee and didn’t notice. So the first two weeks I was a zombie. I craved the smell, the taste, I wanted my morning cup! And because I couldn’t have it I didn’t feel like eating breakfast, so I skip it. Then comes lunch, still no appetite. I’d have a quick snack though. Even when it’s time for dinner I still don’t feel like eating a full meal. Then when it’s late at night I start to get hungry, so I eat anything there. Few bites from this, few bites from that, but not a decent meal. So my eating pattern was disrupted and my diet was destroyed, and I’d end up with only 400 to 600 consumed calories. I also would feel tired and fatigued through out the day. Those were the withdrawal symptoms. And because I suffered from these symptoms I was glad I actually made the decision to quit drinking coffee. During the third week I started to eat more, and by the time it was the fourth week I was eating breakfast again. Now I completely recovered from the caffeine withdrawal.

Today

I thought that a cup in the morning wouldn’t hurt, I mean what’s the worst that can happen? More visits to the restroom? So I made the stupid decision and prepared my (used to be) usual 8oz of black coffee. I had it with breakfast, and to be honest I didn’t feel anything special when I drank it. I missed the smell though, that was the best part. Anyway, half an hour after I finished breakfast I felt dehydrated. I had to drink about two cups of water to quench my thirst. Then two hours later my stomach started to get upset. Three hours in and the madness begun. I felt my heart beats started to increase, and I’d suddenly feel like I can’t breathe. I became very tense. I started to move back and forth, I felt like running fast and jumping off a cliff. It took me two hours to get back to normal. I had no idea that caffeine can do that to me. Bear in mind that my diet is caffeine free; I don’t consume any soft drinks, tea, energy drinks…etc. Coffee (before I quit it) was the only source of caffeine in my diet. So yeah, the dose today was too much for me.

The conclusion

It was a good decision to quit coffee. Will I ever drink it again? Probably yeah, but it will be occasional and something like a latte or a cappuccino, nothing stronger than that. I might even go for decaf. By the way, regular consumption of decaf coffee (as far as I know) is unhealthy, but since it will be something occasional I might try it. But I have to admit that it saddens me to know that my favorite drink could do all this to my health. I’ve always loved coffee and still do, but I have to let go, it’s for the best. What a tragic love story…

P.S: I have no idea what I’m gonna do with a 200g jar of my favorite instant coffee, a bag of instant coffee sachets, a jar of Arabica ground coffee, and a jar of Robusta ground coffee sitting in the kitchen cupboard.

My Detoxing Experiment

Three weeks ago I started a detoxing experiment. Weeks before that I wasn’t exactly eating healthy and I stopped exercising. I also gained 4 kgs (about 9 lbs) and I was afraid I am going back to my old unhealthy habits. So I decided to change again, but I needed something to signal to my body that this is the beginning of a new phase. I wanted to detox and clean my digestive system from the impurities, and this was my plan:

Day 1: Fast and drink only cleansing drink
Day 2: Start eating again. Only fruits.
Day 3: Fruits and vegetables.
Day 4: Fruits, vegetables, and carbohydrates.
Day 5: Fruits, vegetables, carbohydrates, and fats/oils.
Day 6: Fruits, vegetables, carbohydrates, fats/oils, and proteins.
Day 7: Fruits, vegetables, carbohydrates, and fats/oils, proteins, and dairy products.

So you see the pattern here; every day I introduce a new food group to my body. I thought this would be a suitable way to teach my body about the different food groups and how to enjoy real food again. As for the cleansing drink, it was basically lemon, orange, and mint water. So, you’re probably wondering now how this went. Well, it was HORRIBLE!!

First day: I was starving and had no energy to do anything. And let’s not forget that I was not to drink coffee for the rest of the week. Beside that the cleansing drink is plain disgusting. I admit that this experiment was the silliest thing I’ve ever attempted.
Second day: I lost a kilo (2.2 lbs) in just one day (of course water weight). I was happy to be eating food again, but it wasn’t enough to provide me with my daily energy requirement.
Third day: I decided to quit coffee for good, because I noticed how I craved it and how I felt crappy in the morning if I didn’t have my usual cup. I don’t want to be addicted to any food or drink.
Fourth day: I was finally eating carbohydrates again. I was very happy, and I had more energy.
The rest of the days were the same.

Overall, this was an unpleasant experience and I don’t think I’ll ever attempt it again. I also do NOT recommend it. But I won’t lie to you, I did learn few things during that week.

1) I learned the importance of eating not only a healthy diet, but a balanced one too. The human body needs ALL the food groups in the right amounts. So the low-carb diets and things like that are dumb! I also learned to introduce more greens to my diet to help digestion and clean the colon. I used to love carbs the most, but now I appreciate each food group.

2) Coffee is bad for you! Although I love it more than anything in the world, I have to admit that it’s not good for your body. Some of the withdrawal symptoms I had: fatigue, loss of appetite, mood swings. I will probably drink coffee again, but I’ll make it occasional. So yeah, goodbye morning cup!

Now I am back to my healthy habits and feel better. I lost 3 kgs (about 7 lbs) in the past two weeks.

How I lost The Weight

I’ve already shared with you the reasons for why I decided to lose weight and the things you should know before losing weight. Now it’s time to tell you how I did it.

As I said before, it’s very important for you to educate yourself before you start this journey. So basically the first thing I did was reading articles, blog posts, weight-loss success stories, and other things related to nutrition and fitness before I started doing any change. After that I had a base to start with. I kept building my knowledge throughout the journey.

What exactly do you have to read? You have to read about food and the basics of nutrition. Like how your body works when it takes food in, and how the food you eat affects your body, what are nutrients, how important each one is, how to eat a balanced diet…etc. You also have to understand what calories are, how much you need of them, and how much you should burn.
Another topic is fitness. You need to read about exercising and how it affects your body, read about the different kind of exercises, read about muscles and fats and the difference between them…etc.

Next thing you need to do is to be honest with yourself and prepare mentally for the lifestyle change. Sit alone and say, or write down, the reasons why you really want to lose weight. When you know your reasons very well and prepare your mind for it, you’ll be ready to apply your knowledge of health and wellness in your everyday life. Being psychologically prepared and accepting your new lifestyle are very vital for weight loss success. Because if you don’t have enough willpower for it then trust me, no one and I mean NO one in this world can make you lose weight. On the other hand, if you are determined to do it, then no person or thing can stop you from reaching your goal.

Weight loss is not magic. It’s really simple. You need to change your eating habits and start exercising. I know it’s been said so many times, but that’s because it’s the only way. You know why some people fail in losing weight? In my opinion (and from my observation of few people I know) it’s because they are not willing to educate themselves about it, and are not willing to give it all their best. They want to lose weight as fast as they can so they become thin. And they usually think of the process as a burden or as a deprivation from the joys of life. Pretty shallow and immature, right? What I want you to know is that it’s NOT impossible and it IS simple just if you decided so.

What I did after educating myself and preparing mentally was taking certain steps to change my lifestyle. First thing is my diet. These are the changes I made:
– Reducing portion sizes
– Quitting soft drinks
– Controlling dessert intake
– Replacing fried food with grilled, boiled, or raw food
– Stop eating highly-processed food as much as possible
– No eating when not hungry
– Stop eating when full
– Consuming the required amount of calories
– Snacking on healthy food
– Try to have 6 small meals instead of 3 big ones (not always possible for me)
– Adding more fruits and vegetables to my diet
– Drinking more water
– Replacing sugary juices and other drinks with unsweetened tea, coffee, and natural herbs
There are other changes you can make, and of course you can discuss it with a nutritionist as they would guide you to how to maintain a healthy balanced diet.

Second thing is exercising. You need to exercise in order to burn calories and lose weight. It is also important for your muscles and keeping your bones and joints strong. In addition that it’s necessary for your heart’s health. I started exercising at home. I bought a stepper, jumping rope, exercising mat (or whatever it’s called), dumbbells, and worked out. I’d do step aerobics 3 times a week, other cardio exercises 2 times a week, and strength training 2 times a week. You can choose the exercising routine that suits you. You can go to the gym of course and get a personal trainer to help you. Whatever the exercise is, the idea is to move. You may enjoy walking, or swimming, or basketball, it doesn’t matter. Find the exercise that you like and do it.

So you see, this is how it happened. It’s simple, isn’t it? It’s not easy for sure, but it’s gonna be worth it! And to everyone who can’t afford a nutritionist or a gym membership, guess what? I did it without a nutritionist or a personal trainer or a gym membership or even a treadmill at home! That’s why I told you that if you really want to do it, nothing can stop you. I lost 19 kilos (about 42 lbs) so far and still have some kilos to lose to reach my weight loss goal.  I did gain some weight back (4 kilos), because I’ve let stress sabotage my health, which I am going to talk about in a later post. Anyway, I am back on track and hopefully will continue to lose weight and live a healthy life.

Losing weight is a really good journey that you will enjoy and learn a lot from, so don’t look for a quick fix and deprive yourself from this experience. Find your strength and your motivation and you will be invincible. So what are you waiting for? You CAN do it!!

Why I Decided To Lose Weight

As I said before, I want to share with you my weight loss journey. It’s about time to tell my story of how I lost 19 kgs (about 42 lbs) and still going.

To start, I wanna show you parts of my journal to give you an idea of what was going on in my mind then.

Saturday, Jan 28, 2012

“When you have a pair of black jeans that fits you really well and one day you can’t get in it, you know you’ve got a serious weight gain problem”

“I bought those lovely coats for winter but because I gained about 5 kgs (11 lbs) I couldn’t wear them to college. I got on the scale and I found out the sad truth that I weigh about 80 kgs (176 lbs)!! Since I am 156 cm (5 feet 1) this is not acceptable AT ALL!!! Then I realized I can’t wait anymore to start losing weight.”

“I don’t want to say I am going to ‘diet’, no! I want to change my life style. I don’t want to lose weight to fit in a dress for a party or something. No, I want to have a healthy body and feel good about myself. Beside that I don’t want to learn that I have diabetes or high blood pressure when I turn 30.”

“So my goal is to be 50 kgs (110 lbs) which means I have to lose 25 kgs (55 lbs). This is not an easy thing and it’s gonna take time and will need patience and perseverance. I will do it.”

I’ve been overweight since I was a child and became obese in my late teens. I was in some kind of denial that I am obese. I was well-aware that I needed to lose weight, but not that much. I’ve always wanted to lose weight and never was comfortable in my own skin. When I was 18, in the summer of 2011, I decided that enough is enough. I was determined to lose the 25 kgs and start the junior year in college with a new thin body. Of course I failed. Not only I didn’t lose weight, but gained another 3 kgs (about 7 lbs)! I was crushed.

I then decided to accept the fact that I’ll never be thin and I have to deal with my fat body in another way. So I went to shop for baggy and loose clothes to hide my body. I bought two floral blouses that were ugly as dog vomit. I only bought them because they were loose. I wanted to wear one of them with a black pair of jeans I had to college in the first day in junior year. Guess what? The jeans didn’t fit me. I was crushed even more.

During the first semester of junior year, my body was screaming “please I want to be healthy”. I used to have these awful headaches every single morning, which ruins the rest of the day. I used to feel heavy when I walk. My knees and my back couldn’t bear the weight. I wasn’t in a good physical condition, and that interfered with my everyday life. I wasn’t able to study well or concentrate in the lectures. It was also hard to remember things. In addition to feeling fatigued most of the day and lacking energy to do anything productive. I felt like I was 80 not 18!! Around the end of the first semester in junior year, I came to the realization that I should lose weight for myself and for my body to be healthier.

The reason behind my failure in the first attempt was that I did not educate myself about nutrition, exercise, weight loss, and so on, besides setting an unrealistic goal of losing 25 kgs in 2 months. I was aiming for a ‘thin’ body instead of a ‘healthy’ body, and that’s why I wasn’t motivated enough. When it was winter break, January of 2012, I started this lifestyle change. That’s when I wrote my journal entries I posted above.

How I got to being obese? Bad eating habits and no physical activity; simply sedentary lifestyle. So in order for me to achieve my weight loss goal and become healthier, I had to change the way I live. I had to change my mentality. And guess what? This time I was able to do it! During the two-week winter break I lost 3 kgs. The second semester started and I kept losing weight. I felt great!! It was like bringing life back to my body. It was the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.

Someone on the web asked a question to healthy people about why they choose to eat healthy and deprive themselves from the “delicious” fast food and sugary treats. My answer was

“I chose to do that to enjoy life. I changed my lifestyle because I wanted to be healthier, lighter, more energetic, be able to do more things, enjoy eating REAL delicious food, feel younger, avoid having diabetes and heart disease when I get older, and mostly important to appreciate the body I have. If you don’t do that, it’s like you don’t care about your body and you treat it like a garbage can, dumping anything and everything harmful and unhealthy in it. Also, you learn to have self-control and be able to resist temptations and actually feel good and proud of yourself.”

Like I said, being healthy has loads of advantages. You’ll feel youthful, happier, more active and radiant. You will feel so good about yourself and your self-confidence and self-esteem will increase. My life instantly got better from that point.  Here’s another entry from my journal I wrote in the beginning of senior year.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

“I’ve started this lifestyle change on January 29th 2012. I’ve lost 13 kilos (about 29 lbs) so far, and I’m so proud of my accomplishment. Though I still didn’t reach my goal, which is 9 kilos (about 20 lbs) away, my life already changed. First, I look thinner. Second, I feel lighter and more energetic. Third, I enjoy food more. Fourth, my body is stronger and healthier. And last but not least, by doing this I’m thanking God for the gift He gave me.”

Needless to say, senior year was much much better than any other previous year. I used to wake up fresh with no annoying headaches, had good night sleeps, became more confident and comfortable with who I am, no backaches when walking, ability to concentrate, better performance in college, increased productivity, more interest in life, and generally happiness and contentment. So if you are overweight or obese and living a sedentary lifestyle, what are you waiting for? Start now! There’s a whole new life out there waiting for you.

12 Things You Need To Know Before Losing Weight

So, as I lost 19 kgs (about 42 lbs) I’d like to share my weight loss journey with you. I made a new category ‘Health & weight loss’ where I’m going to write about it, and I hope it will inspire those who want to lose weight. But first, before I tell you my story I want to hit you with the truth about weight loss.

If you decided that you want to lose weight and now you’re preparing for the journey, here are 12 things you need to know before starting.

  1. It IS a journey. The road is definitely going to be bumpy, but it won’t matter when you finally reach your destination. While keeping your eyes on the road, do not forget to enjoy the ride itself. There is no point of doing all this when you are not willing to enjoy or learn things from this experience. And there will be a lot of roadside attractions that will make you want to stop, but don’t fall for it.
  2. It IS hard. Yes! Losing weight IS hard. If someone tells you otherwise, they’re either lying so you won’t be turned off or they don’t know what they’re talking about. But don’t look for shortcuts just because it’s hard. Let determination and persistence be your fuel.
  3. You might not find support. Of course you will be lucky if your friends or family or anyone else supported you in this journey. But trust me, even if you didn’t find the support that you expected, you can still do it alone! And don’t be surprised when you get discouragements instead of support. You might return home to find your family gorging on pizza or your co-worker put a chocolate-chip muffin on your desk again, and they might be doing it to see how long you can resist temptations. Don’t let this stop you. Blow them away!
  4. It’s not about being thin, it about being healthy. If your goal is to fit in a dress for an upcoming party then you might not last long in this journey. Your destination should be a healthy fit body, not a skinny body!  This is a strong motivation that will keep you going no matter how rough the road is.
  5. There is only one right way to do it. Exercising and eating healthy. Voila! Fad diets, pills, surgeries, or any other means of ‘fast easy’ ways to lose weight will NOT work. Yeah I know that someone you know tried the latest detox diet and lost 20 lbs in a week or whatever, but did they keep it off? I bet they gained it all back, if not more! Are you looking for a short fix here? No you’re looking for a lifetime change.
  6. It is really a life style. I know you’ve heard that thousand times before, but it is true. Tony Robbins said “If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got”. If you are not willing to change then do not expect to achieve something worthy. So do NOT diet, eat healthy! People who go with the mentality of ‘dieting’ will definitely gain the weight back.
  7. Do not stop cold turkey. As I said before you are changing your eating habits and not dieting. So do not deprive yourself from your favorite food or you might go crazy. I made the mistake of not eating anything, and I mean ANYTHING that was basically a dessert. This is wrong because you will eventually start craving it and then end up binging. Instead of quitting cold turkey, take baby steps into reducing the servings of desserts (for example) you have per week.
  8. Weight loss isn’t a magic pill that will solve your problems. Do not expect that all your life problems will disappear when you lose weight. Of course a lot of problems will, but not all of them. You will be healthier which means your high blood pressure will decrease your cholesterol levels too, you will no more have headaches in the morning, you will have better sleep, better quality of life…etc. but do not expect to get married just because you lost the weight, or get the job you wanted just because you did so (unless that job is a personal trainer of course). This means that you shouldn’t be doing this for anything else but yourself. Let being healthy and feeling good about yourself be the sole purpose of weight loss.
  9. Weight loss has its own problems. So it’s not just that it won’t solve all your problems, but it might even add more to the pile. How? You might start having body image issues, or start obsessing about calories, or even develop anxiety because of it. Also there are times when you might hit a weight loss plateau or lose motivation. I am not trying to scare you, I just want you to be prepared psychologically for this. And I am not saying that you WILL face these problems, I am just saying that you might.
  10. People be mean, people be nice! You will notice after losing weight how people will start to treat you differently. Those people who were against the idea at the beginning will probably start cheering you on by now. It’s not as nice as you might imagine. It actually sucks! This just shows how shallow people are. I gotta admit that when I lost weight and people around me changed the way they think of me I was happy at first, but then I was angry. Why should they assume that I am a better person now since I am thinner? I am almost the same person, but they decided to give me a chance just because I look different now? Smh!
  11. You gotta get used to numbers. Are you good at Math? Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a genius to do this. Weight loss involves simple but effective calculations. The basic equation is: burn more calories than you consume. Of course that involves calculating your BMR, your caloric intake, the calories burnt during exercise…etc in order to be able to know how much you can lose per week. I suggest you keep a journal where you record all that along with your weekly progress. It will help you to stay on track and know where you went wrong if you’re not losing weight or gaining some back.
  12. You need to do your homework. As I said at the beginning this is a journey. So if you are planning for a trip to somewhere new, will you just take your car and go? Of course not! You have to prepare first. You search on the internet about your destination, you try to find the best way to get there, you ask people who have gone there before, you pack the things you need to take with you, and all those preparations. It’s the same thing for weight loss. You have to gather as much information as you can, ask others for advice, read success stories, read about health, fitness, nutrition, well-being, and do all that you need in order to be armed with knowledge enough to successfully kick start this journey.

I know that some of the points I’ve stated might have surprised you, but I don’t want you to be discouraged. You have to accept the truth and work hard to get what you want. We all know that life was never easy. Finally, I wish you the best of luck with your weight loss plans and I hope all your goals and dreams come true.

Have a healthy life.
Cheers!

Note: this post is intended for adults with normal health conditions.
Some people have health conditions (e.g. thyroid problems) or take medications that might make them gain weight. Overweight or obese children under 18 shouldn’t be reading this; their parents should be taking responsibility for their weight problems.