Yes, winter is here. Long cold nights. People are busy whipping up cups of tea and mandazi every 5 minutes and buying takeout meals. Apparently, the cold has turned the kitchen from functional to display only. Weight has a way of sneaking up on slim-figured individuals. The vitambis are growing but you don’t care since you are hiding them under the bale of clothes you are wearing, or the over-sized trench coats to work. And even worse for the idlers, they are ever curled up in bed (like hibernating bears), netflixing, in a pile of junk food from dusk till dawn. But let me assure you, whatever you hide in the dark will be brought to light.
It’s 5 months to the festive season and you will be forced to drop those trench coat, sweat shirts or whatever over-sized rags you are wearing. And oh, the walks of shame. For you have made a pig of yourself. And for the men, tasks as simple as putting on a pair of socks will be preceded by deep inhalations accompanied by grunts. But fear not, for I will not let you endure the daily dose of fat jokes. Not this year my friends.
Today, I’ll give you easy-peasy tips of how to keep fit, you won’t even need to pay the up surd monthly charges for gym membership. I know we are not aiming for the Mitchell Obama like physique or Dwayne Johnson for the men. We are aiming for an improved-version-of-ourself like physique. This is especially good news for the 9-5 people. Most of my friends complain that they don’t have adequate time to squeeze in gym time, let alone afford morning runs (which can be a bit risky for those in Nairobbery).
I’m no nutritionist but hey, did you know you can eat your way to a fit body? Hell, you can eat your way to long hair, nails, flawless skin, good mood, you name it. Even abs are made in the kitchen! Or so the saying goes. Follow my tips below to scare off those extra kilos.
1.Drink lots of water
The recommended amount is at least 8, 8-ounce glasses of water a day (8*8 rule). This translates to at least 2 liters of water a day! I don’t see any challenge here. Kenyans have proven themselves capable of downing a whole crate of beer overnight in clubs so if anything, this should be a walk in the park. What water does to the body, is it helps boost your metabolism (turns up your fat burning capacity), cleanse your body of waste, and acts as an appetite suppressant when taken before a meal. Also, drinking more water helps your body stop retaining water, leading you to drop those extra pounds of water weight. So the next time you are thirsty, instead of reaching out for that soda baridi, take an ice cold water. 100% calorie free! You’ll thank me later. And if you think water tastes boring, add a slice of lemon to spice it up. The pectin in lemon helps reduce food cravings. Apart from the endless trips you’ll be making to the bathroom, there is no other downside. But on the bright side, you’ll be too busy to mind other people’s business. So stay hydrated!
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Do you know why? I’ll tell you why? The water and fiber in fruits and vegetables will add volume to your dishes, so you can eat the same amount of food but with fewer calories. Most fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories and are filling (high fibre content). So substitute higher-calorie food with fruits and vegetables instead. The recommended amount is at least 2 servings of fruits and 3 servings of vegetables each day. This is the perfect time to bond with your mama mboga, so that she may give you discounts on skuma and spinach. And did you know eating plenty of fruits and veggies makes us happier? This is from a recent research. Take notes!
- Cut back on carbs and sugars.
I said cut back, not eliminate. This is because they are our primary source of energy, unless you are a superhuman like Beyoncé (story for another day). Anyway, when you cut carbs and sugars, you reduce insulin levels and your kidneys start shedding excess water (remember the water weight). (NB: a higher level of insulin prevents fat from being broken down into energy, hence your body hangs on to fats). When there is a drop in insulin levels, metabolism moves from using glucose, to burning stored fat for energy. This ultimately leads to weight loss. This explains why patients with type two diabetes suddenly lose a lot of weight. But in their case, the low insulin level is caused by the body’s resistance to insulin. A hormonal dysfunction. Processed carbs and sugars like cakes and biscuits should be put out of the equation, surely you don’t need me to tell you that. Lay off those cupcakes and if your sweet tooth can’t let you have it any other way, try sweet bananas. They are sweet aren’t they? (forgive my Kisii genes). And if you are not going for mjengo works, no need of eating a whole sufuria of ugali. Let’s build a smarter plate. Remember we are trying to eat fewer calories than our body uses.
- Eat enough proteins (your secret weight loss weapon).
Now this is the part where meat lovers take out their note books! I could throw a buffet’s worth of reasons as to prioritize protein at you, but let me limit to what are perhaps the two biggest for now; A high protein diet provides the body with amino acids required to build muscles. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn throughout the day. Proteins also helps you suppress appetite. This is because, proteins trigger the release of PYY, aka “fullness hormone”. This reduces hunger and helps fight food cravings. This can really come in handy when you are trying to cut back on carbs and sugars. And please I’m advocating for healthy protein like beans, eggs or well cooked chicken, fish or beef (in moderation). So don’t go ahead and drown yourself in Nyama choma at Kikopey. In fact, men, limit your nyama choma intake, it has been linked to many diseases. From arthritis to cancer and other cardiovascular diseases.
- Enough sleep.
Well who doesn’t love sleep. It’s surely a gift from God. Proverbs 3:24; “when you lie down, you will not be afraid, yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet”. It is indeed sweet and it comes with its own set of advantages. One of them is sleep more, weigh less. Sleep is like nutrition for the brain. Most people need 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Get less than that and your body will react in ways that lead even the most determined dieter straight to Ben and Jerry’s. Within just 4 days of insufficient ZZZs, your body’s ability to process insulin goes awry. Oh! Oh…When your body doesn’t respond properly to insulin, it has trouble processing fats from your bloodstream, so it ends up storing them as fat. So cut short your long conversations with bae and get some sleep. My heartfelt apologies though, for those sleep deprived because their fanatic CEO’s need them to render anxious toil even at odd hours. But for the rest, you know the drill. Also don’t forget to sleep naked, it helps improve blood circulation and release of growth hormone and melatonin (has anti-aging effects)
Let me not bore you with a lot of jibber jabber and end there. And for those asking whether this has been verified by the Einsteins, I will gladly assure you that I have used myself as a lab rat and it has worked magic for me. It will work for you too, not unless you are an alien.