woman's diary

Weighty Issues

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Foolproof way to cut down those pounds

altYou were once an enviable size 10. Now the clothes you wore resemble a doll’s when placed next to you. The numerous diets you had been promised work wonders have not changed anything or have led to you putting on more weight. Caroline Njung’e talked to two women who battled with weight for years but finally stumbled on diets that actually work.

Weight. Such a sensitive word that instantly gets most women on defense mode. Almost every woman has battled with weight at some point in her life, going on numerous diets that backfire most of the time.
The story is all too familiar. A woman enthusiastically embarks on a diet that is said to have the magic ingredients that will help one lose several pounds in the space of a week. Three things are likely to happen; she may not lose any weight, she may lose some but have a miserable time in the process if the diet is depriving and expensive to sustain, or she may pile up more weight. The fact is that most people spend years jumping from one wonder diet to another; in the process burning up their hard-earned money yet have nothing to show for it.

The ones who cash in on this wild goose chase are the self-professed experts who sell the idea of fool-proof diets or exercise regimens that flop most of the time. Granted, managing weight is not an easy thing to do. It especially seems like a losing battle once the thirties come knocking or after childbirth when the added kilograms stubbornly cling on, refusing to disappear as fast as they crept in. With a society that is increasingly becoming more health conscious, women are under a lot of pressure to live up to a certain image of what a healthy person should look like. In the process, they may end up going to extremes that are likely to undermine their health. This includes taking un-prescribed pills or so-called health teas that suppress the appetite and claim to ‘fight’ the fat in the body. Others starve or subject themselves to a diet of one boiled vegetable or another, forgetting that the body requires a balanced diet for optimal performance. For others, it is an expensive diet, coupled with grueling hours at the gym that leave them feeling punished instead of upbeat.

But weight management need not be distressing or expensive and for those who have given up, it is possible to lose those pounds and maintain healthy weight throughout your life – without having to resort to any drastic measures. All it takes is commitment and a desire to live a healthy life.

This is the first series of health articles that we will feature for the next 10 weeks. If efforts to manage your weight have yielded no results, walk with us for this period and we will show you how you can effectively tame that weight.

To prove that it can indeed be done, two women who had fought a losing battle for years shared with us the simple lifestyle changes that helped them reclaim the slender figures they once had.

Judy Wairimu
Age: 29
Weighted 90kgs
Lost 13kgs in two months
Now weighs 77kgs

A typical day’s meal
Two pieces of weetabix, a slice of wholemeal bread, coffee or tea.

A small portion of rice or any other starch, steamed vegetables, a piece of skined chicken or six small pieces of meat

A small portion of starch, vegetables and grains.

Judy weighed 90kgs before enlisting for a two-month weight lose programme. She had been a petite size 10 before giving birth, but once she did, she just could not stop the weight from piling, ballooning to size 16 in a matter of months. For nine years, Judy tired numerous diets which did not work. Frustrated but still keen on losing weight, she decided to consult a nutritionist. Ten thousand shillings poorer, she emerged from the consultation room with a handful of diets, which she was assured would help her lose weigh if she followed them faithfully. Follow faithfully she did, but did not lose an extra pound.
“I have never been so disappointed in my life. I was overweight and even though I did not look it because I am tall, I knew I had to do something when I could not find jeans that fit me,” she says.

She was so conscious of her weight, that she had stopped swimming since she no longer liked how she looked in a swimsuit. She had long given up on wearing jeans, and now had to deal with the frustration of finding clothes to accommodate her expanding girth.
“I also felt tired all the time and found simple physical activities such as climbing the stairs too strenuous.”

Late last year, she heard about a competition on a local radio station, which was offering five lucky listeners a chance to transform their appearance through a weight-loss management programme and decided to try her luck. She was among the five women selected. They were to spend two months at a local hospital where they would be taken through an intensive weight lose programme through the guidance of a group of experts including nutritionists and fitness instructors. By the end of the programme, Judy had lost 13kgs.
“It is interesting because we were not on special diet. We had the ordinary food everyone takes in their homes,” she says.
The only difference was in the food preparation and the portions they were served
“Seeing how food was prepared demonstrated just how much unnecessary oil we use in the food we prepare in our homes.”

Two months after the programme came to a close, she was on her own. It was up to her to ensure that she maintained her new weight.
“To motivate myself, I promised myself a new wardrobe by January. This kept me focused on meeting my goal.”

Ten months later, Judy, who does not go to the gym because it was too expensive, has managed to maintain her weight through healthy eating and taking a 15-minute walk every day.

She achieves this by alights two bus stops away from her flat and walks the rest of the way, which takes her about 15 minutes. She then climbs the three flights of stairs to her house. She also carries her own lunch to work, which is healthier and less expensive than what one would find in most restaurants.

“I am more conscious of what I eat. I had to cut down on sweets, fast food and alcohol. It has paid off.”

She has also resumed swimming and just recently, beat other parents to come second in a race at her son’s school.

Patricia Mbatia-Macharia
Age: 30’s
Weighed 94ks
Lost 21kgs in three months
Now weighs 73kgs

A typical day’s meal
Breakfast: Two slices of whole meal bread, a boiled or fried egg and coffee with skimmed milk.

A piece of weetabix.

Vegetables, boiled chicken and rice or anything that isn’t deep fried.

A small piece of ugali or a leveled small cup of rice, steamed spinach and a few pieces of meat.

Patricia is proof that one does not have to resort to drastic measures to shed off some weight and keep it that way. She weighed 94 kilograms when she signed on for the same fitness and nutrition progmme that Judy did. Like most people battling with weight, she had tried out numerous diets which never worked for her. She was thirty-something, had had two babies in quick succession and besides playing the role of mother and wife, also had a demanding job. This, coupled with poor eating habits and no exercise was a recipe for disaster. She was overweight and at risk of getting diabetes and hypertension, which can trigger fatal complications. She needed to do something, and do it fast so when she heard about the fitness programme, she signed up for it.

“I learnt that you do not need to diet or go to the gym to maintain healthy weight. You just need to cut down on the fat and sugar in your diet, reduce the portions you eat and walk more. It is not about starving yourself.”

Ways in which you can cut down on the amount of fat in your diet includes taking skimmed milk which has lesser fat content than the whole one, boiling or grilling food, avoiding deep fried foods and cutting margarine, butter and salad dressing from food. Foods with high fiber content are the best since they stay in the body longer, eliminating the need to eat more.

“Before, I really loved deep fried foods, especially mandazis, which I found tastier eaten with a samosa. I never realised how much such simple snacks were contributing to my weight gain. Though I still eat mandazi, I limit the number of times I enjoy them.”

She says that unlike what most people believe, one does not have to cook food using a lot of oil for it to be tasty. Foods such as rice, spaghetti and vegetables do not have to be prepared using oil for instance.
She adds that when forced to alter her eating plan, for example when she has to have a working lunch, she tries to find a way to burn the extra calories by say, taking the stairs or walking an extra mile the next day.
“It is natural to fall off the bandwagon once in a while, but when you do, try to make up for it later. If you must have chips, just have them once a week.”
For exercise, Patricia takes a 30-minute walk every evening to complement her home workout.

“Managing my weight has really boosted my confidence. Before I shied away at wearing anything that exposed my arms or back, now I can wear whatever I want. Every woman owes it to herself to get the body she wants without having to starve themselves or go through pain, or folk out a lot of money. It is possible.”

As an early Christmas gift, Saturday is giving you a chance to achieve that dress size you have been yearning for in just 10 weeks. With the help of a nutrition expert and a personalised excersise plan, we will help you manage your own weight and get it to the desirable level. All you have to do is be at the Nakumatt Supermarket near you on Saturday, 16th August between 9 and 5pm to register. 150 lucky readers will be selected to take part in this amazing programme.

Last Updated on Friday, 14 October 2011 13:55

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