Being a young married man, a Father of two, and resident physician on the verge of contracting high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol, I knew something had to be done immediately. Fortunately, I came across a few medical articles that discussed effective weight loss centered on diet and sustained with physical activity.
In other words, diet is the center of all weight lost plans.
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More importantly, I discovered that 3,500 calories was the equivalent of 1 pound of body fat, which meant that if I could cut 500 calories a day, in 7 days, I could cut 3,500 calories. This implied I could easily drop a pound a week.
This was great!
I then went on an “operation-cut-500-calories-a-day” plan.
To start with, I had to let go of all my candies, cookies, chips, ice cream, fast foods, juices, sodas, and the like. I called them “insensible sources of empty calories.”
By doing just that, I was able to cut anywhere from 200 to 250 calories a day, which was half of my daily target.
I then turned my attention to the Ghanaian dishes: to my surprise, these food items came with huge amounts of calories!
One ball of kenkey could go anywhere from 1,400 to 1,600 calories. My rice serving was measuring about 1,000 calories, my typical serving of Ghana bread, which was about four slices, was 600 calories.
The surprise list went on and on.
The good news, however, was that since the meals were so high in calories, cutting down was going to be easy.
For instance, I cut my rice in half, and just by that, I saved myself 500 calories. Consuming two thirds of my kenkey was going to save me another 500 calories. Substituting four slices of Ghana bread with two slices of Nature’s Own whole wheat bread was going to save me yet another 500 calories.
Well, it turned out that instead of 500 calories, I could easily cut 1,000 to 1,500 calories out of my diet.
To make up for the hunger sensation that came with the caloric reduction, I increased my fruits and vegetable intake. A whole bowl of spinach brought in only 30 calories, a cup of strawberries is about 50 calories.
The more impressive truth was that the fiber content in fruits and vegetables gave me a sense of fullness, which prevented me from pouncing on the rice or kenkey.
The Rest of the Story
I also did a few other smart things, such as avoiding late-night eating, especially my Honey Bunches of Oats cereal. Again, since I knew I was not going to go to the gym, I made an effort to increase my physical activity through the simplest things, such as increasing the pace of my steps when walking.
I found out that this provided me with 15 to 20 minutes of good physical activity each day, which is equivalent to the amount of physical activity recommended by the American Heart Association.
I also took the stairs for three floors above or below, and I would park my car farther from the super market and walk briskly to the store.
Finally I took advantage of being in a Pentecostal church, where singing and dancing are integral aspects of the worship. I am the first to get on the dancing floor, and I danced joyously throughout the whole praise section.
I took my wife’s calorimeter to church one Sunday, and by the time I made it back home, I had expended a whooping 700 calories!
The Final Results
These simple steps, albeit small, added up to something great: Today, I can proudly announce my weight is 178 to 180 pounds, a good 30 pounds less than six months ago. My body mass index (BMI) has dropped from 32, which is the midpoint of obesity, to 27 which for a man with a fair amount of muscles may be considered normal. My waist size has gone back to my Ghana waist of 34 inches.
The more impressive thing is I have been able to keep off the weight with no desire of regaining it. Now my portion sizes have decreased significantly, I completely avoid the ice cream refrigerators in Walmart, I go to McDonald’s as a last resort, kenkey and fufu are limited almost to nonexistent, and my fruits and vegetables intake has gone up significantly.
I always thank God for the knowledge and discipline to change my life in this drastic way.
I am challenging everyone reading this article to give this method a try.
You will be amazed at the results!
The method is simple, cut 500 calories a day, increase your physical activity, increase your fruits and vegetable intake, and you will be on your way to a healthier and longer life.
Thank you and God bless you on this journey.
Watch Dr. Antwi-Boasiako discuss Africans and heart disease and lifestyle here: