By the time this movement control order (MCO) is entirely lifted, most people would likely weigh heavier.
Despite being physically active, our fitness routines may not be as intense as before and we’re probably burning fewer calories these days.
Heeding our Prime Minister’s call to treat the MCO as an extended sit-at-home vacation also makes it difficult to resist the temptation to comfort-eat as the kitchen is just a few steps away.
The stress of being worried whether we or our loved ones will come down with Covid-19, job security, finances, and basically, what lies ahead, may lead to elevated cortisol levels that stimulate your appetite, causing you to forage for food in the fridge.
Do remember that cortisol not only promotes weight gain, but it can also affect where you put on the weight.
Many Malaysians seem to be cooking up a storm staying home, judging from their social media posts and thanks to YouTube videos.
I’m fortunate to have a personal chef (my mother!) who dishes out nothing but the best at every meal.
For the past six weeks, she’s also been baking consistently for the grandkids with me being the delivery driver.
As there are only two of us in the house, the neighbours are also beneficiaries of her sumptuous delights.
One neighbour commented that she’d have to go on a diet if my mother fed her in this manner daily.
I’m sure there will soon be tons of people looking for diet solutions after this “vacation” is over.
As many probably know, there is no shortcut to shedding the excess weight and keeping it off forever.
Here are three weight loss myths to take note of if you plan to embark on that journey.
Myth: One diet serves all
We are all built differently and come in all shapes and sizes.
Likewise, there is no single diet that works for everyone.
Your body type, hormones, genes, biological factors, environment, diet etc, all play a role in how quickly you lose weight.
Very rarely do you hear of people saying they tried one diet, and voila, they achieved their dream body.
Most of the time, people would have tried more than one diet plan before they find success.
Just because your friend swears by the intermittent fasting diet, doesn’t mean that this diet is right for you.
There is no magic formula; some of us just lose or gain weight quicker than others.
I can have one episode of diarrhoea and shed one to two kilogrammes in a week.
Then it’ll take me months to put it back on again.
A fellow journalist claims that she can take a slice of cheesecake and put on a half a kilo!
Experiment and see what works for you, or seek advice from a healthcare professional.
Myth: Eat less and exercise more
In theory, this is true because to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume.
If what goes in is more than what comes out, then the excess has to be stored somewhere.
However, just eating salads and drinking protein shakes is not the answer.
Neither is eating purely healthy, organic foods or depriving yourself of desserts.
You need to strike a balance between healthy eating, regular exercise (not weekends only) and proper sleep.
Stop counting the calories and focus on the quality of food you’re eating – take small bites every few hours, instead of having only two meals, but binging during them.
Snack on nuts, fresh fruits and carrots.
Avoid highly processed food with lots of sugar, but once in a while, go ahead and have that banana fritter you’ve been craving for.
Your weight loss exercise regimen must include both cardiorespiratory (aerobic) and strength/resistance training.
Aerobic activity such as brisk walking, running or cycling helps increase the number of calories you burn a day, but it doesn’t do much to help with muscle tone and strength.
After some time, your body will hit a plateau and you will no longer shed the excess kilos – this is completely normal and utterly frustrating.
That’s one reason why you hear cardio bunnies complaining that their fat loss levels have stalled, despite ramping up their efforts.
As you get stronger, so should your workouts, and just because you’re breaking a sweat, doesn’t mean that you’re working as intensely as you should be.
Incorporate some interval training into your plan, e.g. walk for three minutes and jog for one, then repeat the cycle a few times.
The benefits of strength training are plentiful – it tones and sculpts muscles, trims fat and builds strong bones.
A good resistance workout increases your post-exercise oxygen consumption, which means your body continues to burn calories and keeps your metabolism active, even while resting.
And you must get adequate sleep because this is when your body rests and regenerates.
You might think that the more hours you’re awake, the more calories you’re burning, but that’s not true.
In fact, people who don’t sleep enough at night risk gaining extra kilos.
The longer you stay awake, the greater the chance you’ll have a craving for an extra snack or two, as the body needs energy to stay awake.
And the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism, so not sleeping enough could be affecting how effectively your body burns calories.
If you’re sabotaging your sleep, you’ll actually end up with more fat than muscles, despite all the resistance training.
Myth: Fitness trackers help you shed weight
The market is saturated with fitness trackers to track your daily steps, sleep patterns and basic health indicators.
You might be a slave to these initially, but as the novelty wears off, you will lose interest in caring about your fitness patterns.
In a 2016 study published by the Journal of American Medical Association, researchers followed 470 people who were trying to lose weight, for two years.
Subjects were split into groups and asked to either follow a low-calorie diet, increase their physical activity and attend group counselling; or to follow the same regimen, but add wearable technology six months in.
Those who were using wearables lost 7.7lb (3.5kg) on average, but the people who weren’t using them lost an average of 13lb (5.9kg).
It was puzzling why fitness trackers didn’t help subjects lose more weight.
Study author John Jakicic and his team from the University of Pittsburgh, United States, said it was possible that when those wearing fitness trackers saw their physical activity throughout the day, they felt a false sense of security.
Assuming they had met their daily goals, they probably ate more.
On the other hand, the team also suggested that wearables may not have been encouraging for those in the study as they were already struggling to lose weight and didn’t like physical activity.
So think twice about getting yourself a fitness tracker, unless you’re motivated enough to follow through until your goals are met.
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.
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