My Fitness Journey

Part 26: Getting the Eating / Exercising Balance Right

Some people say that fighting fit and losing weight is 80% about what you eat and 20% relating to exercise. I think what people are trying to emphasise is that it’s important you focus on what you’re eating because a lot of people new to weight loss think you can simply jump on the treadmill every day and lose weight. Now that’s plain stupid because you won’t lose a single pound from any form of exercise if you’re not going to focus on what you’re eating also. So the whole 80/20 thing was created by someone trying to point out that eating healthily is very important and that it’s not just about exercising hard. In my opinion, it’s 50/50 in terms of importance as it’s an equal split. But in terms of effort; it’s 100%/100%

Successful weight loss is about taking in fewer calories than you burn. So to lose just one pound you need to achieve a 3500 calorie deficit which is a lot. Let’s break this up using the 80/20 rule; that’s 2800 calories cut from changes to your diet and 700 from exercise. It’s a lot easier to cut 2800 calories from your diet than it is to burn 700 calories during exercise. You’d have to run a 10k every day to shift that amount of calories through exercise.

Losing the calories through eating a lot less than you should is also tricky because if you’re not eating enough, you’re not taking in the right number of nutrients and this affects moody, energy, concentration and so many other things. Focusing more on eating and less on exercise also means you’re at a higher risk of having a stroke or heart attack for example.  You may have a good diet, but if you’ve not done the physical activity to increase your metabolism and release all those good hormones into your body then you’re not likely to see the figures drop on the scales.

Chris Brophy, whilst camping in Wales

Chris Brophy, whilst camping in Wales

Personally, I make sure that I don’t focus on the maths. It’s not helpful to me at all. Some people love all the stats and believe all kinds of stuff that amateurs chat about on the net, but me, I do what I want and at a pace that suits me. This is really important to successful weight loss…doing things at a pace that’s right for you and one you can sustain.  If you try to rush things and drop weight too quickly, then things won’t go to plan and the weight will pile back on.

Don’t rush it. Take your time and make it an enjoyable experience because let’s face it, losing weight isn’t easy. Changing your diet from junk food to good food is difficult because of habit. One minute you’re eating KFC and love the taste of that amazing crispy chicken, and next you’re drinking healthy shakes, water and eating cereals and salad. That’s not an easy transition to make. It affects your mood, energy levels and you’ll be on the toilet a fair bit too!

Now, I’ve just given the impression that eating healthily has to be all about salads and cereals when in fact it isn’t all about that at all. I was just providing an example and trying to demonstrate the contrast between good and bad foods. As you’ll know if you’ve been following my fitness journey from Part one onwards, my diet has not changed drastically at all, hence why I didn’t lose a load of weight and hit target in 6 months. I’m 13 months in and still have around 7 or 8 pounds to lose.

Early on in this fitness journey I was eating three solid meals a day and two snacks. I wasn’t losing enough weight so dropped the snacks even though they claimed to be healthy bars. I still enjoyed eating chicken, steaks, curries and most of the meals I always ate as “fat Chris”. The only difference was that they were smaller in portion size, not cooked in huge amounts of cooking oil and aren’t served with rice and chips (that’s fries to my overseas readers…not potato chips, or crisps as we call them).

Right now, I’m on two healthy shakes a day for breakfast and lunch, and then at dinner time I’ll have chicken salad, paella, healthy sausage casserole, spicy meatballs and pasta, all with vegetables and no more than around 400 calories per meal. That’s just a few of the meals I eat and not a strict diet I stick to at all. I’m not on any diet in fact…I eat whatever ‘takes my fancy’ and fits the mood I’m in.

I lose weight almost every week, but then there are some weeks where I may feel like a snack or two and that causes my weight to stay put. But I identify the reasons behind the weight hovering and change the week after so I start losing again. But I don’t get upset, angry or de-motivated by this because I know it’s a one-off. After all, we deserve treats here and there. Cheat meals are fine!…or are they?

There will always come a time when you have to sway off track a little and this will cause your weight to hover or even gain. For example, it could be a birthday party or a wedding and the only food available is typical “party food”. I went to a wedding recently and the only food they had available was the typical British buffet. You know, sausage rolls, sandwiches, cake, chicken legs that kind of thing. Nothing spectacular and certainly nothing healthy. I ate a plate of junk and drank around four cans of Coca Cola which is very unusual for me. Surprisingly, I still managed to lose weight that week because I was very active with my workouts.

This week, I went camping with the family for the first time and we ate quite a lot of junk. I had a great British “fry-up” for breakfast consisting of eggs, bacon and sausages, cooked Cantonese sauce with noodles for dinner on day one, made a Spaghetti Bolognese on day two and snacked a fair bit too. Even a mid afternoon run around the hilly campsite wasn’t going to shift all that fat, so sadly, this week I gained weight. But I’m not bothered. It’s not going to be a problem for me because I’m back into fitness again today and know it’ll be gone again in a week or so.

Chris Brophy out for a walk along the beach in Wales

Chris Brophy out for a walk along the beach in Wales

I analysed my “weight” using my Bluetooth scales today and they showed an increase of four pounds overall.  Now if I had standard bathroom scales I’d be worried right now, thinking I’ve gained four pounds of fat when in fact I’ve only gained one pound of fat and the rest in muscle and water. So it’s not such a depressing figure after all.

I know that I’ll reach my target of 172 lbs by some time in October, and then I’ll focus more on toning my body rather than weight loss as such. I expect a little weight gain over Christmas and New Year, but it’s nothing I won’t be able to shake off the following week. I know that by next spring my body will certainly be ‘sculpted’ the way I want it to be and I’ll retain a good weight and BMI. So if you’re like me and on a weight loss journey, don’t be too disheartened when you discover that you’ve not lost any weight in a particular week. Just make sure you identify why this happened so that you can make the relevant changes to your diet or exercise the following week. But do make sure you are breaking down your body weight composition using special scales like mine.

Standard bathroom scales are useless. What use is it seeing that you’ve lost 2 pounds this week, when for all you know it could be muscle and not fat you’ve shifted. Grab a good pair of scales, preferably Bluetooth ones for around £30/£40 off Amazon and get a breakdown of your body fat, water, bone and muscle, especially if you’re on a weight loss journey like me. I feel you want to know more about the ones I have, please drop me a line.

I’ll bring you some end of month stats for August in just a few days now, so you can check on the progress I’ve been making and view body images too. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you whether you’re on a weight loss / fitness journey now, are considering it or just a person inspired by what I blog about here. It’s always great to read your comments.  

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I would appreciate it if you'd share this article for me. Go on, spread the Brophy love! Thanks, Chris