Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Weight Watchers Naija Style ;-)

Someone recently asked me if I followed Weight Watchers religiously and my answer is yes.... BUT WW meal plans are not based on Nigerian meals.
None of the sample weekly plans had roasted or boiled plantain with grilled chicken and veg. Or any usual foods in the Nigerian diet so I had to make it work for me:

1. What my friends named my "Weight Watcher's Stew" - why? only because I used much less oil than the generous amount that we're all used to. I figured, the chicken stock definitely contained oil so why did I have to use vegetable, sunflower, etc oil? I tried it the 1st time and was pleasantly surprised! Like I've said before, oil doesn't make food taste better. If you season your chicken nicely = yummy chicken stock and you season your stew properly, you don't need to see oil floating on your stew for your stew to taste nice.

2. Fried Rice, Adura style - Simple thing which I'm sure a lot of people already do. One thing I learned during this time was to bulk my meals with vegetables. Usually the ratio of rice to mixed veg was 2:1, and at the very best, 1:1. All I did was greatly increase the portion of mixed veg to result in a ratio of  1:3(or 4) for rice to vegetables for my fried rice. Trust me, there's enough rice in there, it actually made my fried rice look more appetizing (all those beautiful colours - red, green, yellow, orange...) and honestly, it tasted good, if not better than my usual fried rice and it was more nutritious. (I know most of us do this already but for those who don't know, cooking rice in chicken stock just makes it taste soooo good).
I did this same thing for noodles, I used to have 2 packs of noodles (nothing unusual there, everyone does it). I cooked my noodles with mixed vegetables and chicken, usually ended up with a plateful of a lot of food <-- I usually was unable to finish a whole pack of noodles.

3. Eating more protein that usual.... Before WW, I ate a big plate of rice with one or 2 pieces of chicken. After weightwatcher, and learning that chicken wasn't bad in very generous portions, I reduced my portion of rice, replaced with vegetables and a lot of chicken. So yep, I was one of those who had less than 2 serving spoons of rice (jollof or fried) and about 4 pieces of chicken... why not? ;-)

4. For other Nigerian staples e.g. yam and plantain, I reduced the portions and boiled or roasted them.

Good thing about weight watchers is they have an online resource that can calculate points for almost anything now. They also have a growing list of points for just about anything now, they're much better than when I was on it :)

Be aware of the size/weights of their servings. E.g. the plantain they had down as 2 points was about half the size of plantain I usually bought.

Photo Credit: Weight Watchers

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

The Scale + Adura != Friends!

After I reached my goal with Weight Watchers in 2002, I'm glad to say I didn't get obsessed with my weight.

But I'll admit I weighed myself at least once a week. I kept this routine for a few years, even after I took up running in 2005 - this was a very good way for me to maintain my weight.... until I totally changed my training routine.

A little more on my running - I used to run at least 3 times a week for a little over 2 years. To improve on my running, and also to add a little variety to my main form of exercise, I did regular interval training sessions and hill runs. I did no strength training so I wasn't building any significant muscle mass.
I mainted my weight with this routine for a long while until I hit a wall... There was no more improvement in my running, I slowly noticed a gradual increase in my weight almost every week (as proved by my scale). I joined Weight Watchers again to lose a little under a stone (14lbs) and with healthy eating, I was back down to my "healthy" weight.

Due to a lot of things that happened in my personal life, I had many important things on my mind so weighing myself was on the back burner. After a while, I forgot about it and didn't for months.

Later in 2008 I included strength training, at least once a week, to my routine. Then it went up to twice a week... I started attending classes which involved a lot of bodyweight training and the changes in my body were amazing. I finally got the muscle definition I'd seen other women achieve but had seemed unattainable for years. I was so happy until...

I weighed myself - I was 8 pounds heavier!

My clothes fit me better, I knew I looked slimmer but the scale said otherwise. My friends kept reminding me about muscle being heavier than fat, did I listen? Nope... I started eating a little healthier, I stepped on the scale every week but my weight didn't budge! Good thing was it stayed the same so I knew I was definitely doing something right.

After doing a lot of reading, especially for my training course, I finally accepted the obvious fact - Muscle is denser than fat i.e. if you take one pound of fat and one pound of muscle, the muscle will occupy less space than the fat.
In my case - I was gaining muscle from my weight training and I did lose some body fat (probably not enough as I was still at my phase of eating as hard as I trained) => I was slimmer but heavier.

After the unneccessary stress I put myself through because of the d**n scale, I stopped weighing myself!

How do I ensure I maintain my current size? As a fitness professional, I should say - I measure my body fat often, use a tape measure to keep track of my measurements or something along those lines but I don't (haha!)
  • I eat healthy from Monday to Friday. Saturday and Sunday I eat almost whatever I want and it all starts again on Monday morning :)
  • My "skinny" jeans. Every woman should have a pair of jeans that fit like a second skin, any little sin will mean you'd have a lot of difficulty putting them on ;-)
  • And working out often (ofcourse). I train 3-4 times a week, I would do more but I instruct a few classes which are physical enough for me... that's my excuse ;-)
I'm not sending out a message here that you shouldn't weigh yourself, if you have a substantial amount to lose to be at a healthy size - weighing yourself is an easy and very encouraging way to track your progress.

If you are at, or are very close to, a healthy size - try not to be obsessed with your weight. We have enough to worry about as women :)

Photo Credit: www.petsugar.com

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

"I want to but I can't"

Motivation is very important when you decide to live a healthier lifestyle, as in any decision you make in life.
If you're not a regular exerciser or someone with healthy eating habits, a lot of effort has to be made to start making the right steps towards this and also keeping it up.

A few people have told me that they want to lose weight but they just cannot find the motivation to do so. Someone said, "I know exactly what to do but I just can't find the motivation to do it." She knows what she needs to cut out of her diet, she knows she should start exercising but... she doesn't do it! I can totally relate to her because that's exactly where I was when I was overweight - I looked at myself in the mirror, saw pictures of myself and felt fat (which I was). I tried to eat healthy but after struggling for a couple of days, I would give up and return to my bad eating habits.

When I was overweight, there were many occasions when people told me I was fat and needed to lose weight. I got really irritated with people constantly telling me the same thing and usually got defensive saying I loved the way I looked.. I did *not*

In 2001, a pastor from our Church in Lagos came to visit my Mummy (in London) and the first thing he said to me was, "Ha Adura! You've bohgad up!". I honestly didn't understand what he meant so my response was an irritated, "What?". He proceeded to say, "You've eaten so many bohgas, you've bohgad up". That's when I realised what he meant... Burgers! Burgered (WTH!) up! That was his way off telling me I was bigger than I was before I left Lagos in 1998. I was sad that day but as always... I got over it.

I made the decision to lose weight when I made the decision. Yes people telling me I was fat was a factor but that wasn't enough to make do anything about it until I was ready.

If you think you lack the motivation to start living a healthier lifestyle, don't beat yourself up about it, don't feel you'll never lose weight... you will do it :) You're thinking about it already so you're going in the right direction :)

Things that helped me get and stay motivated include:
  1. Setting a Goal
    After I joined Weight Watchers, I was set an initial weight loss goal - 10% of my weight. I had more than that to lose but having a short term goal made it an attainable one.
    Set yourself realistic short term goals... Maybe a pair of jeans that can almost button up if you suck in your stomach ;-) Your goal - to be able to slide them on like a glove, button them up and be really comfortable. Then on to a size below :)
    Or you could try out what Weight Watchers did with me - 10% of your weight. e.g. if you weigh 90kg, your inital goal will be to lose 9kg. When you achieve your 1st goal, you set another short term goal.

  2. Success Stories
    I read a lot of articles about people who started out much bigger than I did, lost so much weight and were happy and healthy. Their before and after pictures were so inspiring. It helped that some of them were members of Weight Watchers so I believed I could do the same... and I did!
    I'm an example of a Success Story, and I'm sure you know people who have successfully lost weight. If you don't know anyone personally, you will find loads online. Keep reminding yourself, "If they did it, I can"... you will :)

  3. Focusing on the Benefits of Being Healthier
    I wasn't obese but I was big enough to suffer some side effects of being overweight. I had very irregular periods (my Dr diagnosed me with PCOS because of this, it was a false alarm), backache (I wasn't aware of this but I was self conscious about my size and the size of my breasts that I was hunching my shoulders forward to hide myself), my breathing was shallow and rapid (this I had no idea about until my Mummy pointed it out).
    Being healthy increases your life expectancy, reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer (in some cases), relieves stress, makes you happier and more comfortable in your own skin. There are a lot more benefits to exercise and healthy eating.

  4. Progress Tracking
    This really helped me - Weekly weigh ins at Weight Watchers were really motivating. Losing 3-5lbs per week was proof that my hard work was paying off!
    Keep a log of your progress - a blog is a great idea. I've read weight loss blogs and seen encouraging comments from readers, this gives the blogger even more motivation to keep going. Also start a food diary - this is more useful than you can imagine.

  5. Friends and Family
    I'll admit, at one point my Mummy complained that I was too skinny. This made me roll my eyes and laugh because my Mummy was the same person who told my sister to talk to me when I was overweight!! She was a beautiful and funny woman :) When my Mummy initially saw how much weight I'd lost since the last time she saw me at University, she was happy for me :) When friends saw me during my weight loss, I loved their reaction - they had nothing but good and encouraging things to say.
    If you have a friend who has similar goals to you, you can start your healthy journey together. If you don't, just keep working hard and enjoy the praise you'll get once you start to see results. This will spur you on, will make you keep working harder and you WILL reach your goal.
You can do it!