Monday, November 29, 2010

Monitoring your body fat index at home.

Omron BF400
Whenever I need to check my body fat index, I normally visit one of the local pharmacies and take my measurements using the machine that they keep there for such purpose. I've done this a few times before and posted it on this blog.

I had heard about these Omron home-use devices that use Bio-electrical impedance to measure your body fat percentage and thought I'll pick up one just for convenience. My wife is also interested in keeping track of her BF% but doesn't like visiting the pharmacy.

The Omron BF400 allows me to store up to 4 profiles and quickly measures the Body Fat Index once you select the profile and step on the device. It also doubles as a weighing scale.

A preliminary check shows my BF as 20% but I this may not be accurate as I had just had lunch before taking the reading. I will do this again tomorrow morning to get a more accurate reading.

The BF400 is available in X-Cite Electronics for KD 19.500 (after the normal 20% discount).

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Trying to be Fahad.

Fahad Al-Yehya (well, his resemblance).
"Trying to be Fahad" is a health & fitness blog by Fahad Al-Yehya. Fahad is the owner of Core Fitness, a fitness gym that focuses on short 20 minute sessions that people can easily incorporate into their busy life - while ensuring that they stay active and healthy at the same time.

I have personally not met Fahad, but I bet he bears an uncanny resemblance to his avatar posted on his blog. In other words, I wouldn't want to mess with him or piss him off.

Besides being a fitness guru, Fahad is also a certified nutritionist - which means that when he tells you to eat something, you eat it. No questions asked.

Fahad writes with a light and entertaining style, which makes his blog a nice addition to anyone who is interested in fitness and health.

Fahad is very helpful and answers all of the queries posted on the blog, including detailed advice on diet and nutrition. For example, I recently asked him to review my diet and he gave me a complete diet plan - which I plan to incorporate immediate.

The good news? The advice is completely free!!.

This is my new diet plan - as written by Fahad. Note: The Vetal milk Fahad refers to is a brand of low-fat milk fortified with proteins.

Cajie: I would like to make a few changes if you don’t mind (since I’m more familiar with your daily routine and preference in activity)

Breakfast –
2 boiled eggs, 1/2 cup old fashioned oats in 125ml Vetal Milk w/ raisins
1 slice of whole wheat bread w/ 2 slices of non-fat cheese

*Sip on 1 teabag of Organic White Tea 60 minutes after breakfast*

Lunch – (4-5 hours after breakfast)
6 oz of Chicken or Turkey Salad (1/2 tablespoon of olive oil, 2 tbsps vinegar, salt and lemon if needed)
1-cup of non-fat Yogurt

*Sip on 1 teabag of Organic White Tea 60 minutes after lunch*

Pre-Workout – (4-5 Hours after Lunch)
125ml of Vetal Milk + 1 non-heaping tablespoon of Raw Honey (I posted about this, it has a milky texture)
Add in a tablespoon of instant freeze-dried coffee for a further boost in energy

Post-Workout – (Skip your shake and jump straight into dinner, which should be 4 hours after your pre-workout mixture)
1-cup of Indian Basmati white rice (long grain)
1-cup of non-fat curry (no potatoes, only spices and non-starchy veggies)
8 oz. of Chicken or Fish (you may mix these in with your curry)

- If you noticed, you’re eating less frequently. I’ve combined the snack with lunch, and your pre-workout sandwich and post-workout shake are too heavy for your cardio workout, since they’re designed to feed your body after a hard weight-lifting workout (which is why I asked you if you lift weights prior to my diet inquiry)

- You’ll feel a lot more satiated when eating your meals, but hunger will strike in after the 3-4 hour mark. This is perfectly fine and serves as a great precursor to fat-burning. Your body will be running on body fat once you feel the hunger, but the food’s actually still in your system for a good 6-8 hours. Embrace the hunger and enjoy the ride

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dieting vs Sugar: Sugar Always Wins.

A delicious calorie-rich cake.

Ever since man created sugar, humanity has been struggling with obesity. As each generation passes by, the war on obesity becomes more bitter as sugar keeps gaining the upper hand. This is despite all the knowledge and research that we have gathered and synthesized over the years. Humanity has conquered every known frontier - why is obesity so difficult to overcome?

I watched a very interesting episode on BBC called "10 things you need to know about weight loss". One of those 10 things focused on why skipping meals (or extreme dieting) is a bad idea. To prove this theory, a volunteer was subjected to a MRI scan on 2 different days. On the first day, the volunteer arrived at the test facility after he had a full breakfast. On the second day, the volunteer arrived at the facility completely hungry. On both days, the volunteer was put insider the MRI chamber and subjected to a series of images of food, and his reaction (as determined by the brain movement) was recorded.

The result? When the volunteer was not hungry (i.e. on the first day), there was no significant difference in brain movement when he was shown low-calorie foods such as salads or calorie-dense foods such as donuts, or cakes. The MRI showed a totally different picture on the second day (when the volunteer was very hungry). The brain did not register much activity when shown low-calorie foods, but it lighted up when shown high-calorie sugary foods.

The researchers determined that when we are hungry, our brain is programmed to seek out high-calorie food. It is something we do unconsciously and no amount of self-control seems to be able to overcome this barrier. I know it happens to me and I am sure it happens to each one of us. It looks like we are genetically predisposed to overcompensate with extra calories when we are hungry. We essentially end up undoing all the hard work we put during our diet and end up worse off than what we were - before the start of the diet.

And that's why we are losing the battle against obesity. It's not our fault. It's our brain that is making us seek out these calorie-dense sugary goodness. It is our brain that is urging us to stuff our face with cakes and donuts and cheesecakes.

If you are obese, now you can at least feel better about yourself - knowing you never had a chance!!

Do we have any hope? The only way to fight obesity and to stay healthy is to look at health as a life long project and not worry about losing weight for the next big event. Most of the time, we obsess about losing a certain amount of weight to fit into a dress for an event or an occasion. Once we cross the milestone, we are lost and return back to our usual habits and end up gaining more weight than we lost.

Once we stop obsessing on short-term gains and and focus on long-term goals, things will start falling into place. Long term goals focus on a balanced diet that includes everything (including calorie dense foods in moderation) and a healthy lifestyle that incorporates at least 30 to 60 minutes of vigorous workouts 3 to 4 times a week.

As of now, everything else is a myth.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Push-Up Challenge.

Back in September, I started incorporating push-ups into my regular workout schedule. At that time, I was struggling to do 50 push-ups and decided to keep pushing myself till I could do 66.

Why 66 you may ask? According to U.S. military guidelines, doing 66 push-ups would give me the maximum score of 100 for my age group (42 to 46). I figured that if I keep pushing myself, I should be able to reach this goal in about 2 months.

Well, it is 2 months since I started the challenge and I have not been able to reach the target. I have slowly managed to increase the number of push-ups but I end up hitting the wall at round 58 or 59. Today, I decided to record my workout hoping to hit at least 60.

I managed to do 61. Still 5 push-ups less than my goal. According to U.S. military guidelines, this would have given me a score of 94%. Pretty good but not good enough.

The quest continues...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Kuwait's First Half-Marathon Event.

Now that I have successfully completed my first 10K outdoor run, I am looking for the next big challenge. The first half-marathon event in Kuwait is planned by Kuwait Charity Run along with Bayt Abdullah Children’s Hospice. The event is scheduled to take place on January 28th 2011.

Not much details are available at the moment. They had a stand at the RunQ8 event where they collected registration details of people interested in running this longer distance. The form mentions 10 KD registration fee but I noticed that it includes a timing chip. A timing chip allows for more accurate results of all the participants.

I submitted my registration - though I did not pay any registration fees. They mentioned that they will contact us with further details.

A basic website has been put up for the event. You can visit it by clicking here.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The RunQ8 Event.

Participants of the RunQ8 Event.
Today, I ran my first official 10K race after more than 20 years. The race was organized by Fawzia Rehabilitation Center.

I had been practicing for this race for the past 3 weeks - even going so far as to run on the exact same route of the race twice. The first time I did it, my time was 57:50. I improved upon this time during my second trial run and came up with 53:05.

Based on this, my expectation was that I should be able to complete the circuit in less than 50 minutes (assuming that I did not get affected by the heat which was an unknown quantity for me). I asked my wife to modify a cap that would be suitable for running. She did an excellent job by attaching an elastic band to a normal cap so that it won't fly off.

We got up early and headed off to the starting point (Kuwait Scientific Center). The mood was festive and the turnout was great (official estimates are more than 500 participants). After a warm-up session, the race started at 9:00 AM and all the runners were off.

I stuck to my planned pace of around 5 minutes per kilometer so that I could finish it in under 50 minutes. After the initial jostling and bumping, the field thinned out and I could see the top runners racing ahead and I settled down somewhere in the middle and continued running.

The weather was excellent for running. The cap helped me immensely. I was also wearing polarized sunglasses which helped me to focus on the road without worrying about the sun. I felt I could have gone a bit faster but since this was my first race, I decided to stick to my plan and not overdo it.

I finished the race in an official time of 44 minutes 30 seconds. My official position in the race is 30. I have just one word for that. WOW!!!.

Just one year, I could not run for more than 10 minutes without gasping for breath. Today, I finished a 10K road race in a time that can only be considered great for someone my age.

This is me - about to finish the race.

The cap looks dorky, but worked well for me.
I hope they update the top runners list on their official website.