Success is like an iceberg

Recently one of my gym instructors shared this on her facebook page:

From my point of view this is a perfect metaphor!

People don’t see all that we go through when journeying from overweight to healthy. Those who have not underwent this transformation tend to disregard what they don’t see and believe it’s an easy process. It truly isn’t.
Also, as I’ve talked about on my post about Setbacks, disappointment and failure are part of the journey. We should accept them and learn from them, instead of giving-up because of them.


Best drink EVAH

Several studies have shown that most of us simply do not drink enough water to stay hydrated. Water is the best drink you can have and when our body doesn’t get enough of it, it has to manage what is available and impair certain functions to make the supply go round. This means chronic dehydration affects us in a multitude of ways.

After looking for information on the subject, I realized I clearly (used to) fit the symptoms of chronic dehydration, but before I read about it I had no idea that what I felt were consequences of the lack of water in my body. As I’ve already shared, giving up soft drinks was a real struggle, but a successful one, and I’m not a fan of alcohol either so (for a couple of months now) the only thing I drink is water, plenty of it, and sometimes freshly brewed herbal tea. I am happy to share that this was quite possibly the change which had the strongest impact on my overall well-being.

I won’t say much more because there’s plenty to read on the article below about the body’s many cries for water. Trust me: you’ll be surprised. And no, your body doesn’t deed fluids, it needs water.

12 Symptoms of Chronic Dehydration

And you should also check out the complete version of the infographic below.

Sem Título

Side effects of being overweight

I want to recover the article I shared on my second post.

Crushed lungs, strained joints and a swollen heart – the extraordinary scans that reveal what being fat does to you

As you can see on the scans, and read on that news piece, excess weight is no laughing matter. From my point of view the unaesthetic component is truly the least important side-effect. However, we as a society choose to focus on the “looking bad” side instead of “feeling bad” side.

Allow me to share some of the “feeling bad” elements of being overweight or, in my case, obese.
Chronic back pain. Everyday, all day. Some days worse than others, but ever present.
Swollen, painful, ankles. Especially in the summer, or if I stood up for too long.
Frequent migraines. No, not headaches, migraines.
Lack of balance. If I tripped, I fell, the end. I also had to sit down to put my shoes on, for example.
Joint grinding. When I got up in the morning you would think I was an old gate in serious need of some WD40.
Insomnia. Frequently staying up looking at the ceiling until the late hours.
Lethargy. Most of the times I didn’t feel like moving, at all. Didn’t have the energy to do anything other than couch surfing.
Excessive sweating. Simple everyday things, like changing the bed sheets, got me sweating.
Breathlessness. A single flight of stairs left me breathless and with my heart rate going through the roof.

I felt all these things, and many others, daily. Saying that being overweight is uncomfortable is an understatement.

Becoming healthy is a lengthy process, truthfully, and not an easy one.
Reaching 113kg, like I did, means you need to completely readjust your lifestyle: dietary habits & exercising. There were so many changes to introduce that I couldn’t do it in any other way than by baby-steps, and that takes plenty of time.

It’s also a rocky process.
Before new behaviours become habits, it’s human nature to drift back to the comfort zone, which means a lot of setbacks are to be expected. But setbacks are not defeats, they are opportunities to learn and restart.

But It’s SOOOO worth it.
I’m not eloquent enough to express how much better I feel, and I’m not even at the end of my journey.
I believe everyone needs to keep in mind that it’s a process, which takes time. One doesn’t gain excess fat overnight, so it also won’t go away overnight. My advice would be to: be patient, appreciate the road, don’t fuss too much about the destination, and enjoy the little changes you start to FEEL – not see – on your body and mind.

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Recipe x 3 (part 2)

Following up on my Refined Flour isn’t cool post, I would like to share some alternatives to pasta for mail meals. Here are some of my favourites:

6a868beca87f58f2cc782915bec97802Spinach, mushroom & feta crustless quiche – The key is really in the crustless part, and it works well for me because I never really enjoyed the crust anyway. I don’t actually use all those cheeses, and – like a good Portuguese – I always use extra virgin olive oil, not non-stick spray. Based on this idea, I create whichever quiche combinations come to mind.

Stuffed Ranchero Sweet Potato – I go heavy on the cilantro and besides this full combination, I often use the ranchero stuffing as side dish to my grilled chicken breast. As a chilled salad it’s awesome for summer!

chicken-chickpeas-tastefoodSmoky Roasted Chicken Breasts with Tomatoes and Chickpeas – The key to this strong flavoured meal is in the cumin. The tomatoes provide most of the moisture, but I advise people to keep the chicken’s skin on while cooking, or it will tend to dry up. Also, I never felt the need to add the yoghurt sauce. It’s pretty tasty without it.

And these are just 3 examples, I urge you to look online for recipes! There are endless possibilities which do not use refined flour, but do not compromise flavour, are not dull salads, and still give you that comfortable feeling of a full stomach.

You can check my 1st Recipe x 3 post: here

Non-secret secrets

So…. I’ve had several friends and family members asking me for my “weight loss secret”, and my answer usually disappoints them.
Firstly I feel the need to correct them: I’m not trying to lose weight, I’m focusing on being healthy and strong and the weight loss is just a side effect. Secondly, there aren’t any secrets:


Unless you call discipline, hard work and willingness to change a secret… then, yeah, I have “secrets”.

Refined flour isn’t cool

As I’ve said on a previous post, before I started looking for information on my own, I only knew what the common sense says, and it only tells you to stay away from carbs because they “make you fat”. It doesn’t tell you 1-that not all carbs are the same (a calorie is not a calorie, remember?) and 2-that refined flour produces other – much more important – negative reactions in your body.

After my baby-steps approach, at this point I hardly ever eat food products which contain refined flour. And no, it’s not because they “make you fat”, I don’t care about that,it’s because of effects like the ones you can read about on the following article:

Seven Negative Effects of Refined Flour

After reading it you may think: Refined flour isn’t cool, at all. But now what? What do I eat??
Well, fortunately nature provides plenty of options that actually pack a lot more flavour than pasta, not to mention nutritional value. Such as: sweet potatoes, chickpeas, kidney beans, spinach, black eyed peas, broccoli, black beans, carrots, pumpkin, cauliflower, all other types of beans, all other vegetables, I could really go on, but you get the picture.
Just look for recipes online, I was amazed at how much awesome tasting variety I had been missing out on. For alternatives to white bread/cookies you can, for example, take a look at my Recipe x 3 post.

Final thought: I’m not a radical, and I’m not too strict, but this is currently one of my mantras when choosing what to eat:


Finding the right workout

I strongly believe I have been successful in my journey towards health because I ended up loving exercise. If a year ago you had told me “You’ll attend a 2 hours body combat challenge and love it” I would have loled in your face, or “You’ll take the 7:15am RPM class” I would probably have you committed to a mental asylum. I used to be a serious couch surfer and would frown and rant at any activity which required me to move more than usual.

Like I said on my post about Changing Focus I found the right kind of exercise for me. Which was fitness classes, for other people is crossfit, for others is a specific sport like basketball, whatever, as long as people enjoy themselves while exercising, it works! There are so many different options, at least one is sure to be a match! One just has to do some online research and then give them a try.

Since I can only speak for myself, here’s what works for me, with a sizzler for each of the classes:

Les Mills Body Combat   – I have to admit, I love this, like love-love. Totally unexpected, but it was love at first try. And on my first class – only 30m – I honestly thought I was going to die. I mean it! I strongly believed I would either have a heart attack, or an asthma attack. Either way, I thought would end up in the emergency room or at the morgue. But I didn’t and kept coming back.

Les Mills CxWorx – I was only “brave” enough to try this after a couple of months at the gym, because it really challenges your core and I knew I couldn’t handle it, yet. At first I hated the resistance tube. I just wanted to throw it on the ground and jump on it with both feed, how dare that insignificant thing make things SOO difficult?! But I’ve come to terms with it and have even levelled up to a stronger tube *yay*

Les Mills Body Balance – This was the 1st class I tried, so it’s the one I’ve been taking the longest. DO NOT BE DECEIVED by it’s chill vibe and slowness of movements, it’s a workout, and a full body one.

I also take Les Mills RPM, but I think those classes are too dependent on the instructor. Also, I’m aware that I only enjoy it because in the meanwhile I have ended up loving the burn and the challenge, otherwise I would probably have found them boring.

Take this opportunity to, at least, glance through all the Les Mills Fitness Classes, perhaps you’ll find something you’ll like. Whichever class you choose give it an honest try. By that I mean take the fitness class all the way to the end – I see too many people giving up half way through the class – and take the class at least 3 or 4 times. Why? During the first couple of classes you’ll always, always, feel lost, inapt, frustrated and it takes some time before you’re able to start keeping up and enjoying it.

I can only encourage people to REALLY take the time to find the right exercise for them. Try several things, some of them may surprise you. Trust me, enjoying your workout truly makes a difference.

Listen to Rafiki


I once read two sentences which, in the long run, have come to make total sense to me:

The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.

One reason people resist change is because they focus on that they have to give up, instead of what they have to gain.

At this point I believe it doesn’t really matter how much you’ve let your self go, or how many times you’ve given up on changing your body. It’s never too late to make a change – or many small changes – and focus your energy on the new things you have to gain, like health, strength and overall well being.

I don’t count calories

Before I started looking for information on my own I only knew what the mainstream media / common sense told me about weight loss and calories. I was really surprised to find out that at least since 2012 we have scientific studies debunking (not to use the word refute) said common sense.

I don’t know why this information is not completely out there, but I want to help spread the word that “a calorie is not a calorie” or “not all calories are created equal”.

In 2012 Dr. Robert Lustig (you’ve seen him on the Sugar = Drug of abuse (part 2) post ) published a study showing that not all calories are created equal and he quickly gives an example illustrating this premise on this clip from the 1h36m Fed Up documentary, which you should also watch:

I know, I know, this is too quick and lacking concrete information, but let’s call it an overture. It should make you want to know more, and you can start your research with the following articles:

6 Reasons Why a Calorie is NOT a Calorie

Still Believe ‘A Calorie Is a Calorie’?

Knowing this – along with the other information I’ve already shared on the 2 Nutritional Choices posts – was a major factor in choosing to slowly change my dietary habits towards healthy, natural food, and away from processed food-like products. Which means I’ll eat a banana or a potato without thinking twice, while staying away from things like Coca-Cola zero or low calories meal replacement bars. And yes, I still lose plenty of fat.