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Many of us have new year resolutions – did you make one (such as losing weight) for this year? Many make great new year resolutions but sadly they fizzle off after a few months. 6 months have passed, let’s reassess the situation and see how much we’ve progressed (or regressed.. gasp!) from our targets. It’s mid-year resolutions time 🙂

In December 2013, I had an interviewer from a local newspaper asked me a few questions on losing weight and new years resolutions. I only had an hour to work on this, and while at my cousin’s place, I jotted down these answers on my phone and emailed it to her after.

Unfortunately not many of the things I wrote were taken and published that weekend, as the amount of content given couldnt fit the column / space that I was given. Instead of letting it go to waste, please allow me to copy and paste the questions and answers that I provided for her. I changed some names and information, for obvious reasons.


Jack is 25, weighs 110kg and is at 1.74m tall, this gives him a BMI of 36.3. He has been obese since primary school and wants to lose 20kg successfully in 2013. At a university admission health check-up in 2008, his blood pressure measured 140/80. He measured on his own again last year and it was the same. He has no other medical conditions.

Interview questions:

(1)  He wants to lose 20kg for the whole of 2013, which brings his BMI down to 29.7. He wants to know if this is a realistic target? He believes that if he can be at 90kg, the weight loss from then on would be much easier. Is this true? That weight loss in the initial stages, especially for someone heavy like him, would be hardest? Why or why not?

Sharm: He need not wait to hit 90kg to feel that weight loss would be easier then. Just the first 1 to 2kgs of weight loss will make it easier as now 1) he is lighter 2) success helps boost motivation 3) inertia 4) volition level stronger

Body at rest stays at rest unless a force acts upon it. Why hardest?  to start, unless the self motivation and environment supports his goal of losing weight. Fitness is at zero, intake at its most (and probably unhealthiest), and mental strength not tested. Why not hardest? New year resolutions usually is a strong ‘force’ and motivator. First month crucial, ride on the high of the resolution. Ultimately the adherence to weight loss programme must be high after a couple of weeks as resolutions strength weakens.

How? All programme factors (Physical Activity [PA], Nutrition and Mental skills) must be progressive, realistic, attainable and SMART goal bound.

(2) He knows that he is not clocking the recommended 150mins of moderately intense physical activity a week. His only form of exercise now is walking to the supermarket once a week for 15-20 mins to get groceries. He has tried to do brisk walking for 20-30mins twice a week in 2008 but after three months, he stopped doing it cos his studies in uni took priority. Now, he feels that the lack of time and motivation are the main reasons he is not exercising. What can he do? What forms of exercise can he do for a start, and how should he increase the frequency/intensity of these exercises over time?

Sharm: Have a progressive PA plan (10 mins / day) for first week. Up 15 mins / day next week. Only increase when he’s ready. If 10 mins tough,start with 5 mins. Main goal: Start moving, ensure moderate intensity after 2nd week. Mid to long term plan should be to clock more than 250 minutes of PA per week, working at medium intensity level.

Incorporate incidental physical activity. Walk to MRT station, climb staircases, etc. Weekends do activities that involves moving.

Food: Don’t go cold turkey. Cut caloric intake by 5 to 10% in the first 2 weeks. ADD/replace w more vegetables, more high fibre food. Go brown (progressively). Desserts/fatty/’sinful’ food – continue eating, but reduce by 30 to 50%. Take twice the duration to eat, enjoy. Share your ice cream and cakes. For a start.

Guidelines (ACSM and HPB) for weight loss is more than 250 mins a week. Moderate intensity. Min 10 mins a bout. Work towards guidelines, start small, you don’t need to jump into it. Take the first few weeks as preparation for 150mins /week. Once this is attained, work at 250 mins. Do more after a few months after.

Keep in mind: To lose weight, caloric expenditure must be more than caloric intake.

See Livestrong’s article here

(3) He wants to know how often should he monitor his weight? Should he expect to see results in a week, or only after two to three weeks? In short, what mindset should he adopt while losing weight? Basically he wants to manage his own expectations.

Sharm:  If you have to, weight once a week. Water content changes daily hence does not reflect accurate changes to body fat. I would advice that he measures waist and hip instead- sites for fat deposit, a better way to see progression /regression. Pant and dress sizes too.

Wait for a few weeks to see results. What type of gains? The smart way to lose weight is to gain muscle (to improve metabolism) – as muscle weight more than fat, even though fat is lost, weight may either stay

Expectations: according to ACSM guidelines, 1 to 2 pounds a week (up to 8 pounds a month). As much as he wants to see his weight drops, I strongly recommend that he focuses on body transformation instead – take before photo and ongoing photos. Compare body shapes.

Mindset: Goal is body transformation – Fat loss, muscle gain but not weight loss. Key is to Just ‘move’! Even if it’s small steps.

Don’t jump. Don’t go cold turkey. Go small steps. Step progression.

Expectations: body shape changes, fitness level improvement, overcome challenges and temptations, need to improve mental strength

See my article for more strategies

I’ve had more than 4000 people that goes through my programmes on weight loss. For those who follow my guidelines (built from research and other guidelines from sports science authorities and academies – they lost weight 🙂 Give it a try and Stay in shape! 🙂

Sharm, MSc
Your Personal Trainer


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