So, you want to be on a low carbs diet in Singapore.
You've realised, 6 weeks into the year, that after all that Christmas feasting and Chinese New Year gatherings, your stomach, is looking , gulp, pretty big.
And you've read on Google about how the fastest way to getting your weight down is through a low-carbs diet. But hold on. We've been there.
Or you might want to cook something healthier for your child, who's looking like he needs more exercise.
We've started diets that we don't keep. Bought gym memberships that we end up not going. And you wonder how to sustain this low carb diet, when carbs, look, just so good.
Here's 3 principles, and then the best places we've found that can help you maintain this low carb diet in Singapore.
It's not the diet, but the lifestyle
In September 2019, I came back to Singapore. After 3 years of studying in the UK, I was finally back. And I felt a horrible sense of loss. I'd lost people I loved, the place I called home, and the peace I had come to enjoy. Not knowing what to do, I stuffed myself with more and more food to fill the emptiness within me.
Cakes. Chocolates. Cookies. You wouldn't have wanted me anywhere near your fridge.
In a month, I grew by 8kg.
And then I realised I needed to change. I got a coach. Went to the gym 5 times a week. Swam. Ran.
But nothing worked.
That may sound like you. You've tried everything, and everything you're doing doesn't seem to work.
You're stuck. Nothing ever seems to change.
Then COVID happened. And in 3 months, I lost 14kg.
I knew the theory of weight loss. It was as simple as eating less calories than you needed.
But somehow, the delicious cookies were always there. Nothing seemed to change.
With COVID, with nothing to do at home, I started exercising. Everyday. For 10 minutes.
I just went out and started lifting 5kg dumbbells. If I got bored, I would go out to run.
All the weight started dropping off.
You can do that too. Often we think that exercise needs motivation. Or that we need to have a disciplined diet to reach our fitness goals. Yes, but that's not all. We also need to make fitness a lifestyle.
That means making it easier, to be fit. James Clear, in his book 'Atomic Habits' talks about how we often look at big goals, without chunking them down to small, digestible bits.
That means things like:
Making it easier to exercise, such as telling yourself to go for a 10 minute walk rather than a 30 minute run
Changing the food you buy so that you cannot indulge yourself with that creamy latte
You get the idea.
Health is a lifestyle, and not just a diet.
Don't follow the diet, follow the calories
When my fitness coach, Mr World Singapore 2020 Nicholas Ng started training me, his advice to me was simple.
Count your calories.
I just thought to myself,
You must be kidding me.
Count calories? How important is that?!
I had to weigh the food. Yes, I'm not kidding. Weigh the food with a scale before eating them. Take pictures of what I was eating and send it to him. Track every calorie on the MyFitnessPal app.
You might think it sounds a little too much. But it helped me to see what the biggest contributor to my calories were.
Today, you might be finding the latest diet or food. But don't look for that. It's not going to help if it's not natural to you.
Instead, look at your current calorie count.
Starting from where you are, and being aware of where you're starting from, rather than trying to insert a whole new habit, will be much easier to sustain over the long run.
This is where it gets tough. Whilst we can give you the 'lowest' carb options, what we've found more effective is to give you good replacements for what you're already eating. Because telling you to eat lettuce and tomatoes every day will be easy, but it's not going to be something you keep.
Replacing the sugary, highly-processed foods in your food intake now, such as the cookies, biscuits and chocolates, is a quick win.
Rather than the biscuits, why not try a banana?
As you slowly replace the processed foods in your diet, you will realise that you start to reduce your cravings. It's natural. As you get less used to the high sugars in the biscuits, and appreciate the natural sugars in your fruits, you would naturally begin to crave less of those late night snacks.
You probably love your meepok. And relax, we aren't asking you to give that up. But what we may offer is a different way to eat them.
At the risk of looking self-promotional, we are going to talk about W0W Noodles.
W0W Noodles has o.8g of carbs. It's incredible. Made with spent barley grains, this means it doesn't leave you feeling bloated, tired, and listless.
Why not try something different this time, and go for some vegan burgers?
This outlet in Eunos, just off the beaten track, has a rustic, feel to it. With wooden tables, and oh-so-delicious burgers that remind you that not everything nice needs to have juicy, tender meat in it, can help you to reduce the calories in the meal.
It's not just what you eat but what you don't eat
It's been 6 weeks since the start of the year. For some, it may mean - ah, let's give up on eating well.
But for you, eating low carb foods doesn't mean you eat badly, or that you have to torture yourself. Rather, it's about seeing the great options that you still have around you.
Don't give up now.
There's still hope.