The end of the year is always such a joyous time that we don’t want to bother with controlling what we eat and don’t even want to think about exercise. But the first thing most people want to do in the New Year is to lose weight!

On today’s show I had the pleasure of talking to Avi Samra who said that there isn’t a quick fix when it comes to losing weight, people who do lose quickly usually don’t do it the healthy way. They starve themselves which is not healthy for the body. At times, people feel bloated and if you want to cut down on bloating then Avi suggests:

  • Drinking lots of water
  • Cutting down on sugary foods
  • Eating balanced and nutritious diet
  • Avoiding too many preservatives and processed food

The first part of losing weight is nutrition — Avi is a firm believer in doing things the right way so she does not believe in quick fixes. Her motto is to be happy be healthy. It’s good to lose weight and be slim but it is equally important to be healthy as well. She would never suggest anyone to go for medications of any sort for fat loss or weight loss.

The best way to lose weight is to eat a healthy balanced diet along with proper exercise and that doesn’t necessarily mean cutting out on all the foods that you like. It means limiting the unhealthy food to once a week or even lesser. It would be a good idea to reduce the amount of oil in cooking or replacing it with the healthy oils like grapeseed oil. Trying to avoid the obvious chocolates, biscuits and cakes and also avoiding white grains like white pasta as it contains a lot of sugar and choosing whole wheat instead will aid in weight loss. It is also very important to look at food labels. We know that biscuits contain a lot of sugar but a lot of other food that we eat also sometimes contain lots of sugar even though they may not be very sweet to taste. If sugar is the first ingredient on the list printed on packets of food then it means that food contains a lot of sugar said Avi.

When we are unsure of the proportion of carbohydrates, proteins, fats etc. in the diet then there is a rule of thumb that everyone uses. If you look at your palm that’s the amount of carbohydrates like rice or roti that you should have, the fist of your hand is the amount of protein like fish meat or dal that you should have and your two hands together is how much vegetables or salad you need to have in a meal.

Avi said that people can actually end up putting on weight rather than losing it if they skip meals too frequently. If in the morning you don’t have breakfast, go to work and the first meal that you eat is lunch in the afternoon the body has a tendency to go into starvation mode. The body thinks that there is no food coming in and it holds on to the calories and energy so you don’t start burning off any energy in the morning. Having breakfast in the morning puts the body into gear and you actually start burning energy. Even if you don’t have time in the morning, however, busy you are it is important to eat before leaving from home according to Avi. She suggests that the best thing to do would be instead of having heavy meals opt to have smaller portion meals more often so that you can burn them off quicker.

As far as weight loss is concerned it depends 70% upon what you eat and 30% on the exercise that you do. Most people want to lose weight in the stomach area, they want a flatter toned stomach so they think that just doing sit ups or doing crunches is going to help them achieve that but Avi said that it is not the right thing to do. We need to target all the muscles around the body. By doing that we are actually working our core because our core is engaged while doing those exercises and that will help to flatten the stomach. Doing 100 crunches or sit ups everyday isn’t going to help having a flat stomach area. Avi showed some exercises like dead lift, lunges for the whole body using a kettle bell which will target all the muscles around the body. Avi said that the legs are the largest muscle group so if you are working your legs then you are burning lots of energy. She also showed the correct way of doing crunches. She said that you need to lay down on your back, focus on something on the ceiling, keep the spine in the neutral position, hands by your ears and not to use the hands to push the head up, they should just be there relaxed by the ears.  This is the position that needs to be maintained to do proper crunches.  She suggests starting with whole body exercises followed by crunches.

Avi also showed some exercises for people who suffer from arthritis which can help them improve the circulation in the legs and in turn help relieve their pain a little. But the flexibility is different for everyone and they should stretch only as much as they are comfortable doing she said.

Initially when people start to lose weight it is quick and people end up losing a lot of weight in less time. But later on there comes a point where the weight just stabilises and this is called the plateau effect. If you are overweight then the 1st month you lose a lot and then reach the plateau stage this is because the body gets used to the type of food you are eating and the type of exercise that you are doing. When that happens we need to shock the body by maybe increasing the intensity of the exercise or by doing a totally different form of exercise that you don’t usually do. Even in the diet making changes like changing the times at which you eat or altering the proportions of proteins and carbohydrates should usually help in overcoming this stage.

Any type of activity or dance that you enjoy will be a good form of cardio as long as by the end of 20 minutes the heart is beating hard and you are short of breath. There are some forms of dance or activity that might cause knee pain but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is bad knee pain, sometimes just being overweight can cause knee pain, also when you start exercise the joints are stiff and will start loosening slowly. If the pain is mild then there is usually nothing to worry about but if you feel severe pain then you need to stop the exercise and see your doctor said Avi.

The basic rule of thumb when breathing while exercising is that you are supposed to be exhaling on the hardest part of the exercise. It’s necessary to take nice deep breaths. A lot of people hold their breath and that’s not good as you can pass out when doing weights. She said that it’s also very important to warm up before exercise especially in the winter months because if you don’t warm up then you are more prone to injury. Any kind of warm up like jogging should be good or if doing weight training then starting with very less weight is usually a good warm up. She said that it’s equally important to relax after a workout.