Today I want to talk about weight.
This was inspired by an article on Cracked.com, which I love on the whole. However I really, really hate it when they try to be ‘liberal’ and defend sub-groups that get picked on.
I guess I’m posting it here because it’s kind of related to beauty, I suppose.
Now, I want to get some terminology right:
- Fat. Every human has fat. I in fact, have more fat than quite a few other local girls though on the whole I am pretty skinny. At my normal state, I am not as lean as my model friends. I also have bigger boobs, so that’s a plus. This slight chubs (subcutaneous fat) is what I’m referring to as fat.
- Frame. Some people have huge frames (think broad shoulders and chest, wide ribcage, etc.) I have a relatively small frame. Not necessarily related to height. Caucasian women generally have larger frames. People with larger frames are naturally heavier, I guess.
- Diet. Now this is a trigger-word. I do not consider crash/fad diets to be diets at all. When I talk about diet, I refer to things you eat day-in, day-out, as per normal. A diet that you can sustain for a year, at least.
- Carbohydrates. Another trigger word. Every fucking food item has carbohydrate, even meat (in tiny amounts.) What I mean by carbohydrate is actually: grain, bread, rice, pasta, etc. Those starchy foods have a LOT of carbohydrate as their main nutrition. (Also includes anything made with floor, noodles, cakes, etc.)
So. I’m obviously quite thin, although not as lean right now as I would like to be. I don’t exercise much or regularly, but I have a very good diet. When I was eating a lot, I also exercised a lot. I did quite a few 10ks and even a 21k run. Now, I am definitely weaker physically since I do not exercise regularly, but if I were to do the same amount of exercise as then, I would be even leaner than I am now. So weight =/= fitness, since I was fitter when I was fatter than now, but I could be thin and fit if I tried harder.
There’s also an issue with where women store fats. I have a friend who doesn’t get much fat on her body but her cheeks become humongous. I myself store fat in my thighs, sometimes when my shorts don’t fit right I know it’s time to exercise some self control. You may look more or less unsightly deepending on where you gain the fat, but I think a good goal to go for here is an increase in leanness overall.
Fatshaming is a terrible thing. Since I try to be nice to anything except mosquitoes, including plants and all, I abhor fat shaming. If I had a fat friend who wanted to lose weight, YES I would totally help her (plus I would use it as motivation to get myself to exercise more.) I don’t think being nasty accomplishes anything in life. However, I believe that 99% of people can get slimmer if they make the correct choices, the 1% of course for true medical exceptions.
I have very, very good self control, at least in the weight/diet/health area (and also in the personal finance area.) It’s all down to willpower, people. Since controlling diet is much more efficient than trying to lose all the weight by exercise, I will be talking about that.
Fat is basically our body’s energy reserves. Like seals and whales who have blubber, and camel humps which store fat. When a camel goes without water and food for many days, his hump gets smaller, because he uses up his reserves. If you consume more than what your body requires, you will put away some of it as reserves ie fats.
Now, there is talk of calorie-in calorie-out. I strongly advocate this method, but it is frequently abused by people who do not understand how it bloody works. The science is simple. Every gram of fat has 9 calories. That’s why it is easy to get fat on fats, and why fried food has lots of calories, because you need to each much less fats than other nutrient types to get the same number of calories. Every gram of carb has 4 calories. Every gram of protein has 4. Alcohol has 7/gram (that’s why drinking can make you fat.)
The Cracked article states that humans’ metabolic rates are understated by the guideline of 2000 cal/day. I find that to be complete bullshit. At least for Asian women, since we are smaller in general stature, we need far less than 2000 calories. I have not kept track of my calorie intake for a looooong time, but believe me my portions are very small. I estimate my general daily intake to be around the 1500 level, and of course I am maintaining my weight well. However this probably does vary very greatly from person to person. Most foods have a lot more calories than people think, and that’s why many people underestimate their calorie intake. Common high-calorie culprits are anything involving dairy, starchy foods, and meat. My recommended method is: just use common sense, find the appropriate amount of food that helps you achieve your goals, be it losing or maintaining (or gaining) weight.
This article for example, talks about artificial sweeteners (which have no calories) causing people to be fat anyway. This is because artificial sweeteners do not satisfy your craving for sugar and people with less self control tend to go and consume sugar even after drinking soda with artifical sweetener or whatever, negating its intended effects anyway. If you can negate the consuming of actual sugar after consuming artificial sweetener, you will be fine.
Tastebuds can be trained and bettered. Nowadays, I rarely eat outside food because I find it too damn salty usually. And I don’t drink drinks anymore outside because the super high sugar content actually make me thirsty or my throat dry. I was not like this previously, but due to many years of better choices my body reacts like this now. I also used to be super picky about vegetables, and I hated celery, but now I eat celery in almost everything. Tastes can and do change for the better, especially when you maintain good habits for a long time.
My ideal diet and the one I would recommend for people trying for a better diet, is to eat lots of vegetables and fruit, with little meat, a little bit of carbs, and minimal processed food, sugar, and salt. I actually eat very little fruit, but I think my vegetable consumption makes up for it. I always stock up on veggies that last for a long time in the fridge, such as celery and carrots. Skip the lettuce and shit. Go frozen if you need to. I don’t skimp on anything I feel like eating. I sometimes eat fried chicken, skin on, but my usual meal is rice, celery and some cheap mushrooms. It’s sustainable because I don’t ban myself from anything I want to eat, I just eat everything in moderation.
The problem with a western diet is that it revolves around potatoes/bread (carbohydrates) and meat. Vegetables always take the main stage for me. I only throw in meat (usually) for some flavour as a side character in a dish. I don’t even eat much carbs (like rice.) That’s the Chinese way, we don’t often have lots of meat as a standalone dish. Vegetables have a lot of fiber, water, and cellulose, which makes it a lot less carb and calorie dense than potatoes (which are packed with starch.)
I live in an expensive city, and I buy dirt cheap vegetables at the local supermarket. What, you don’t have a supermarket/grocery store near you? REALLY? I mean, come on, I don’t fucking believe you unless you live in a cabin in the woods, you’re in the fucking most developed nation on earth and you have an internet connection. Some stores can have items that are more expensive, sure, but that’s why you shop smart. I have a premium high-end supermarket opposite the road from me, but I never, ever go there. I always walk 1km each way to the super budget supermarket. (For the record, I have a Fairprice Finest which is the high end version nearer me, but I choose to go to the budget one instead. COME ON.) I always buy a shitload of vegetables (filling 1.5 baskets) and always only spend around $50 SGD even with lots of other expensive shit thrown in. I skip things that are very expensive that trip (egg prices are sky high now so I reduced my egg consumption.) It’s MUCH cheaper to cook at home, and yes it does take some effort, but it’s a skill, people. You don’t need a full functioning kitchen. You just need like 1 pot and a single (even portable will do) cooker, a couple of plates and bowls and that’s it. You can even use the microwave to cook a meal.
My diet is I eat whatever I want, HOWEVER, due to years of eating well I’m naturally trained to eat decently no matter how much rubbish I try to eat. I never, ever eat ‘snacks’ like chips or popcorn or bullshit because I simply don’t like it. These chips and whatnot are addictive, sure, and my husband always predicts I won’t stop eating them if I ask to have a few of his chips. But I always prove him wrong, and I always stop after a few. Dairy makes me feel generally unwell so I also avoid too much dairy. However a couple of days ago I made biscuits with 300g of heavy cream (that’s 900 cal over 12 biscuits from the fat in heavy cream ALONE) and I ate them, because I know how to eat two and stop, not eat all 12 at one go. I stop eating when I’m feeling semi-full, like any decent person should. I do not stuff my face.
And there is no such thing as starvation mode. If you do not eat, you will starve, yes, and therefore get thinner in the process. You will definitely lose muscle mass, since they will break down the muscle for energy eventually, but you will also lose a ton of fat. This only actually applies if you starve for many days on an end. The other day I had stuff to do the whole day outside and I didn’t bring food from home, so rather than buy food outside I told my husband I would simply not eat from 9am-4pm, and I think I even forgot to eat breakfast, although I did have my morning tea. He didn’t believe me, but I sure as hell did it. (I did drink a bottle of something with sugar in it though.) Even after I got home I did not immediately eat anything, and had dinner at 8. That day due to quite a lot of activity and the no eating, I lost the bit of chub I put on recently. If you go and run non-stop for 1 hour, you burn around 800 calories. That is quite a lot of calories, and so long as you don’t eat that all back, usually within the next day you can see immediate effects, most noticeably on the loss of chubs/getting leaner even if there’s not much actual weight loss. This is due to the fat being used up by your body.
You know sometimes you feel really hungry and you get hunger pains but after awhile it goes away? I call that the phantom pain. It makes you feel like you are hungry as fuck, but think, the last time you had a meal was probably a few hours ago. It’s not a real hunger. Most of us carry around enough fat and muscle reserves to last us at least 1-2 weeks without food. I mean, how bad are our hunger pains compared to people starving in rural third world areas?
The thinnest I was in my life was about 2 months after I gave birth. I didn’t have time to feed myself, literally, so I rarely ate for weeks, maybe once or twice a day at most. Maybe there is no culture of ‘instant’ food for me. At that time, if I didn’t manage to whip something up, I just didn’t eat. It’s not like I simply went out to buy take out, microwaved food, or ordered delivery (which I totally could have.) This mindset is great for anything in life, be it finance, mental health, or yes, weight.
I totally understand drugs and depression making people fat. I am clinically depressed and was on many drugs too, and there were periods where I definitely craved food. Just last week or so I ate like 5 meals in a day because I felt like it, and I did get a bit chubbier than usual. But remember, it’s all about appetite. The drug/condition DOES NOT make you fat. It either slows down your activity (such as by making you more relaxed or sleep more) or increases your appetite and makes you consume more calories. You can control your food intake even with increased appetite, although it is definitely hard.
Hunger and dieting is not an inherently bad thing. This is the first time in history that we had such an unprecedented access to all sorts of instant gratification, food-wise. It’s like we totally forgot how to go hungry once in awhile, which I am sure many people who are more unfortunate can relate to.
Some steps that everyone can do to lead slightly healthier lives
- Install a pedometer app on your phone. You SHOULD walk 10,000 steps a day as a rough guideline. I rarely hit it. Your physical activity is much less than you think it is, honestly.
- Do not put salt in 1 dish that you make. I frequently don’t salt my veggies at all.
- Reduce portion sizes. If you do it a little by little you’ll hardly notice it. Maybe eat 1 spoon less of pasta day, or something.
- Cut out/reduce all drinks with calories. Nowadays I enjoy tea with a little sweet condensed milk, but for many years I drank tea as is. Drinks can be a nasty, surprise source of calories. Cut out any drinks bought off the shelf especially.
I do not wish to start a war regarding health and obesity and whatnot, but I urge you to examine your lifestyle honestly and critically before commenting. I used to think I was just larger than other girls when I was 6+ kg heavier, but I grew to realize it was just because of my love for eating. Nowadays I am much thinner, with almost no effort. It requires a lot of training up, changing mindsets and your set of tastebuds, and a lot of willpower, but for most people I believe it’s possible to become thinner and healthier, sustainably. I want to become a better version of myself, which is why I exercise, and I hope that you also would want to do the same and shed some fat.