On Consciously Trying to Trim the Fat

Jess in Hollywood after a month hiking the West Coast of the USA - August 2013

Jess in Hollywood after a month hiking the West Coast of the USA – August 2013

I will never be – and have never desired to be – petite or skinny. I like having curves, I like being tall and strong. I like being able to see over the heads of a majority of the female population, and not feeling dwarfed by guys.

I have a typically ‘Dutch’ physique – tall and muscular – thanks to my ancestry on Dad’s side (sorry Mum, you missed out in the genetic lottery!). If I don’t watch what I eat, I can gain weight as easy as breathing, especially if I eat bread-y foods, sugary foods, and alcohol (ahh, sweet cider).

It’s only in the last few years that I’ve been seriously exercising. And even less time since I started actually loving it. (Yes, I am one of those nutters who actually enjoys exercise. I’ll let you in on a little secret – you just have to find something you like doing!)

Throughout my 20s I may have jogged, cycled or walked 2-3 times a week at most, and never really did much strength training or work on my flexibility.

Since gaining weight a few years back when I was working 16 hour days with no exercise while getting Epheriell off the ground (hello, burnout!) and reaching around 80kg, my lifestyle has definitely changed.

I weighed in at about 85kg back in my last year of high school, and after losing that weight and getting down to 60kg (!) during Uni, I vowed I’d never get that unhealthy again. I don’t quite know how I ever weighed that little at my height (176cm tall) – it seems too light – but I can tell you now it wasn’t a fit 60kg – I barely exercised at all back then, unless you count walking around my – admittedly huge – university campus. And we all know muscle weighs more than fat…

My weight slowly crept up during my 20s, and was hovering around the 70-mark in my late 20s – around when Nick and I got married. It was after this that the extra 10 came on, until mid-2012, when Nick and I changed our diet and experimented with Paleo. We’re no longer strictly Paleo in our eating, but lean much more that way than anything else these days.

We both lost a big chunk of weight when we first went strictly Paleo, and a bit more when we experimented with the 5/2 diet last year. I ended up at 68kg at my lightest, which was before we left for the US and Canada mid-2013, and I returned about the same weight (thanks to a month hiking down the West Coast after a month sitting around chilling in Canada – they have good cider!).

Since then – around August last year, my weight has hovered around the 70kg mark.

I started training for the 13/14 tri season in October, but tore my left calf muscle, which prevented me from running since then, and pretty much dashed my tri plans for this season. I’m only now just getting back to running – however, that injury has actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because I had to turn to alternate workouts.

Hence – I’ve been doing HIIT strength workouts 3x per week since the beginning of the year, and I’ve also gotten pretty addicted to yoga. This has resulted in increased muscle mass, strength, and flexibility, which is still on the up and up. I’ve kept up my swimming during most of this period (usually twice a week, doing 1km minimum) so I’ve remained relatively fit.

So! I’ve decided it’s time to kick it up a notch and consciously aim to trim back some of my comfy fat.

I’m not overweight by any measure, but with all the movement I’m doing, I really want to be able to see the results. At the moment, most of those lovely muscles are hidden under my comfy fat layer, so it’s time to cut it back. I want my inner Amazon to shine through, bitches!

I also know that losing 5kg of fat will make my workouts easier, as I’ll be lighter, and I’ll feel generally more comfortable – win/win.

My current goal is pretty conservative – I want to reach 65kg, which should result in at least 5kg of fat loss. It may end up being a bit more, as I will naturally be gaining muscle mass over the next few months as I work out, so if it takes me a little longer to get to my goal weight healthily, that’s fine.

So, what’s the plan?

Pretty simple: I need to reduce the calories I’m taking in, and increase the calories I’m expending.

The only change I’m making to my workout regime is kicking the HIIT sessions up from 3 to 5 times a week; adding in one cycle and one run – minimum – per week; and, aiming to walk every morning before yoga (I probably walk 3-4 days a week at the moment).

Food wise – I’m just cutting out treats and increasing fresh veg intake. Food really is the key whenever you’re trying to lose fat.

No chocolate, alcohol, sweet coffee or the treats I tend to have when I’m out. I’ll still enjoy our weekly family dinner dessert, and am allowed to drink at social events, but that’s it. I currently eat 2 meals a day – lunch and dinner, plus coffee and water before midday. We fast until midday most days, rather than doing the 5/2 diet any more. I’m not a natural breakfast eater, so it works great for me.

And before anyone has a go at me about breakfast being ‘the most important meal of the day’ because it kick-starts your metabolism – my morning coffee, walk, and yoga do that just fine, thanks very much 🙂 There’s actually no real evidence that eating or not eating breakfast makes a difference either way – so it’s whatever works for you, really! Each of us knows our bodies best, when we really listen to them and pay attention.

I’ll keep weekly track of how I’m going. Right now, the aim is to reach 65kg before I go to Cambodia in early April, so that gives me just under 2 months, which should be plenty of time.

Current Stats

Weight – 70.6kg

Body Fat – 25.4%

Muscle Mass – 34.6%

Water – 54.4%

(Measured using our dodgy home scales – and I realise the percentages don’t add up to 100%… like I said, dodgy! But it’s all I’ve got to go on, so here it is.)

So, this is me, putting it out there into the world! #Goal65

P.S. I am more than aware that weight is not the best measure of fitness, but in this particular case, it’s a nice simple goal number. Once I hit that, I might start focussing on measurements or distance/strength goals again.

  2 comments for “On Consciously Trying to Trim the Fat

  1. February 18, 2014 at 9:09 pm

    I’m doing something similar. I’m on week 6 of the 5/2 and have lost 2kgs so far, my partner has lost twice as much. I am pretty small, and I was 50kg 2 years ago but I’ve crept up to 60kg which means not fitting in my jeans anymore. My aim is to fit back into them and be a healthy 55kg, so 3kg to go! Good luck Jess.

    • Jess
      February 20, 2014 at 11:04 am

      Good luck to you too, Kerry! Yes, that insidious creep of weight gain is frustrating, I know now I really have to be aware of what I do and eat every day in order to avoid it now 🙂

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