For more than a year now, I’ve honestly been diligent in my Arnis training. I’ve reaped a lot of benefits like skills, strength and power, optimism, and love for my country. So many good things over the year.
But what really frustrated me was that despite all my exercise, I still gained 14 pounds! At 5 feet, 4 inches, I weighed 157 lbs. That’s Body Mass Index (BMI) of 27 (overweight).
WHAT HAPPENED? I think I was so confident that with all my physical exercise, I could just let go of my eating.
I didn’t notice the pounds creep in since my photos didn’t look THAT bad.
And then, one day I saw this photo.
That’s me and my friends taking a boat ride in Batangas about six weeks ago (April 18, 2014.) Look at my belly!
Despite all my exercise,
I was I’m still fat! Do you know what my waist size at that time was? I’m ashamed to tell you. Let’s just say that it was way way over the safe waist size limit for Asian women which is 31 inches. (for Asian men it’s 37 inches. For non Asians, it’s 35 inches for women, 40 inches for men.) Or more generally, about half of your height.
Oh alright, I’ll tell you. It was 38 inches!!!! Not only does it not look good but fat inside the abdomen (aka visceral fat) is really DANGEROUS because it envelopes and marbles internal organs.
Visceral Fat interferes with insulin, lowers good cholesterol, and increases bad cholesterol and triglycerides (blood fat). It significantly increases the risk of stroke and heart attack.
And we all knew that, right? It’s just that for me, that knowledge did not translate to practice. Mea culpa.
After a few days of feeling down because of that photo, I willed myself to be diligent about my nutrition as I was with my training.
Author-journalist Michael Pollan articulately summarizes in seven words, what for me is the best eating rule.
- Eat food — not food-like substances. That means I’m basically saying goodbye to most processed foods. (But I’m not dogmatic. I can occasionally give myself a treat without guilt. As my 16 year old nephew says, “We need treats for our mental health”. I believe he’s right.)
- Not too much — portion size is key. Green leafy vegetables–I can eat as much as I want. Starchy vegetables, about 1/4 of my plate. Protein, also about a fourth. Same for grains and fruits.
- Mostly plants – lean meat is still very much allowed
I don’t like counting calories and I’m wary of most of the diet programs around. So I made up my mind to just follow the Healthy Plate recommendation because it’s much easier and more pleasurable to follow.
It’s somewhat revolutionary for me because aside from the usual Eat right, and Exercise, the authors also emphasize the importance of Faith, Focus, and Friends.
- Faith- pray to God to help you get healthier
- Focus- have a clear vision of WHY you want to be healthier
- Friends- find friends who will support and encourage you in this journey
It’s been great so far. I’ve eaten more greens, leaner meat, and healthy grains. And I’ve tweaked some of my eating habits to get rid of sugary food and drinks. The best thing: I do not go hungry at all. I feel lighter and stronger in my training.
As of today, I’m 146 lbs (BMI 25, just a tad away from normal weight) and my waist size is now 35 inches. Just 4 inches to go, yay! Pretty soon my internal organs will no longer be enveloped and marbled by that disgusting and dangerous visceral fat.
There’s hope that I can still be a healthy Arnisador onto my senior years. That’s what I want!
How about you, is your belly healthy?
Thank you for taking time to read The Deadly Dance.
From around the web:
- Not sure if you’re overweight? You can know by checking the BMI calculator
- How to Eat / Michael Pollan
- Healthy Plate / Harvard School of Public Health
- I’m not really an avid fan of these shows but they explain the dangers of Belly Fat well