Humans are obsessed with their weight. We’re always looking for ways to lose it.
Ironically, it’s the ones that are slim and healthy-looking who ask me for weight loss tips.
Does dropping one or two kilogrammes really make a difference to your overall health, or is it purely for aesthetic purposes?
The overweight ones are not too bothered. Not until they are diagnosed with non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, hypertension or high cholesterol, that is. Then they spring into action.
These days, even animals are put on a diet because like their owners, they lack exercise and have joined the world’s growing girths club.
They eat our food scraps and enjoy air-conditioned living.
A pet lover friend puts her poodle in a special dog seat and takes him for a ride around town. In the park, his paws are covered with booties to protect and keep them clean.
This pooch is so pampered that when the owner is at work, he listens to recorded music, interspersed with the owner’s voice (to eliminate the feeling of loneliness).
After dinner, he gets his teeth flossed!
His only daily exercise is to walk from the couch to the bathroom a few times a day to take a pee break. By the way, his pampers are neatly laid out beside the toilet bowl!
No wonder the furry fella is fat, but charming nevertheless.
Last I heard, the vet has ordered him to exercise more so the friend is taking her four-legged companion on nightly walks.
To lose weight, you have to eat, poo and sleep well. Exercise is then added into the equation.
However, the scale isn’t always the best way to measure your progress.
A lower number may boost your mood, but changing your body goes beyond this number.
And frequently weighing yourself may be discouraging as your water weight will always fluctuate.
But how can we measure weight loss without standing on the cold scale?
Well, here are some ways to indicate if you’ve gained or lost weight without using the weighing scale.
The easiest way to tell if you’ve lost weight is by looking at how your clothes fit.
Do they hang loose, are they bursting at the seams or is the zip on your pants unable to close?
If you are no longer able to button your shirt, then clearly, your belly has expanded.
But if you need a belt to hold your pants in place, that’s progress.
However, when your muscle mass increases, your clothes may sometimes still feel snug, but the softer, fleshier parts of your body will feel hardened as muscles replace fat.
Feeling more comfortable in your clothes or going down a size is more important than stepping on the scale, as they are more accurate indications of fat loss.
There are those who prefer wearing baggy outfits to camouflage what’s beneath.
Sorry, but this isn’t going to help much in your weight loss journey.
I’m not a fan of selfies, but the majority of people are.
Take a fortnightly or weekly picture of yourself at several different angles to keep track of your progress.
Wear the same outfit and stand in the same place every time.
Don’t be discouraged if there are no drastic changes in the photographs. If you’re doing everything right, the results will come in time.
After all, weight loss is a gradual process that doesn’t happen overnight.
And don’t believe people who tell you it’s possible to lose 5kg in a week. The faster you lose, the faster you will gain it back.
When you’re expending extra energy working out and feeding yourself with better foods, you’re more likely to get a good night’s sleep.
Parents often tire their children out during the day so that they sleep better at night.
The same rule applies to everybody, no matter what age you are.
When your sleep goes down, your weight goes up. Sleep deprivation causes changes in hormones that regulate hunger and appetite.
Inadequate sleep increases the hunger hormone called ghrelin and decreases levels of the satiety/fullness hormone called leptin, which can lead to overeating.
The less you sleep, the more you tend to eat, as you stay awake for longer hours.
When you lack sleep, your brain can’t make rational decisions, and you’re also more likely to be impulsive and give in to junk food desires.
The better you sleep, the less the chances of weight gain.
There are many wearable devices in the market to track your sleep patterns, so try them out.
Measuring your body parts can give you a rough estimate of where you’ve lost weight and how many inches have come off.
It doesn’t tell you whether you’ve lost fat or muscle (you need an equipment to measure your body composition for this), but it’s still a good starting point.
We all lose weight at different rates and some areas show faster results than others.
So, take out your old-fashioned tape and measure the areas you want to see change, such as the waist, arms, thighs, buttocks and chest.
Do this every two weeks and note the difference.
Believe it or not, one student told me she had lost weight on her ankles because all her leggings were now loose around the ankles – and it wasn’t because she put them in the washer!
I’ve heard of people being able to slip into their wedding bands again after they got trimmer, but ankle weight loss is new to me!
With weight loss, you can tackle everyday tasks better.
Small efforts like getting in and out of the car, walking up a flight of steps or carrying the groceries up your apartment block become easier. Panting and puffing become things of the past.
All of these activities are deemed important because they deal with real life.
Yes, you enjoy living once more and feel empowered when your energy levels are high.
When you have increased energy levels throughout the day, it means your blood sugar levels are balanced.
Your diet or regular fitness routine could have contributed to this, but the scale will not reflect this.
Many studies show that exercise boosts memory power.
As you shed weight, mental tasks become easier as you will be able to think clearer – your attention span, concentration, planning and coordination all improve.
Naysayers might say that certain herbs can also increase memory power. They might, but they don’t bring about other benefits.
Ultimately, get in tune with your body. Listen to it, treat it with care and it will reveal plenty of insights, besides serving you well.
Gauge how you’re feeling instead of focusing on numbers on the scale.
You may have started your fitness journey for aesthetic reasons, but as you continue on your path to better health, you may begin to discover a new you.
And that new you won’t become a slave to the scale.
Revathi Murugappan is a certified fitness trainer who tries to battle gravity and continues to dance to express herself artistically and nourish her soul. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org. The information contained in this column is for general educational purposes only. Neither The Star nor the author gives any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to such information. The Star and the author disclaim all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.