What motivates someone to shed 42 kilos?
For Sri Lankan born, Melbourne based nurse Harshi Suraweera that motivation came in the shape of negative comments from complete strangers about her size after a friend posted a group photo on Facebook. As people, unfortunately, feel they have a right to do in this day and age of social media. In Harshi’s case however, she used the unkind criticism to motivate herself into doing something about her weight. Fast forward 10 months and she’d lost an incredible 42 kilos. So much weight in fact that she says her own mother didn’t recognize her at first!
Harshi started her weight loss journey by hitting the gym for several hours of cardio every day. She found that going there later in the day, when not so many people were around, worked best for her.
This allowed her to concentrate on her cardio workout without having to worry about anyone else.
It didn’t take long for the visible changes to start happening. This convinced her she was on the right track and also encouraged her to keep going with it.
Another thing Harshi looked at long and hard was her diet. Even though she is a nurse, Harshi admits that her diet was, to put it bluntly, pretty ordinary.
Being Sri Lankan, she ate a lot of curries complete with lashings of rice, as well as the ubiquitous downfall of western society – junk food. Notably pizza washed down with Coke.
She admits she could easily consume, and often did, at least one liter of Coke and up to 2 pizzas daily.
Now that’s a LOT of sugar – 108 grams of the stuff, give or take. Or 26 of those little packets of sugar, one of which is the equivalent of a standard teaspoon of sugar. Wow!! Imagine putting 26 teaspoons of sugar into a liter of water and drinking it on a daily basis. Now consider this – the recommended daily intake of sugar for men is 9 teaspoons or 37 ½ grams and for women 6 teaspoons, or 25 grams. That’s sugar all up, from all dietary sources, not just in the form of sugar granules.
Harshi, with her daily liter of Coke, was consuming more than 4 times the maximum amount of sugar for a woman. On top of whatever sugar she was getting in other foods and drinks. The rice to go with the curries for example is a carbohydrate and another source of sugar, albeit a complex sugar. But ultimately they all wind up as glucose and excess glucose is not a good thing.
So what does excess sugar do to you? For a start, simple sugars are quickly converted into glucose in the small intestine and absorbed straight into the blood stream through the intestinal walls. This causes an immediate rise in blood sugar levels, triggering the release of insulin. Insulin’s job is to regulate blood sugar, which it does by telling cells to switch to using glucose from the blood for energy instead of fatty acids. Excess glucose over and above what cells require for immediate energy is stored as glycogen in muscle and liver tissue. Once glycogen stores are full, the excess glucose is turned into fat and stored in adipose tissues. When blood sugar levels return to normal, insulin levels drop away.
The problem with consistent excess sugar intake is that it keeps blood glucose levels high. This in turn means insulin levels also remain high for long periods and eventually the body loses its sensitivity to insulin, becoming insulin resistant. This is a precursor to diabetes. And all that excess sugar the body can’t burn off is turned into fat.
Anyone For Another Piece of Fat?
The other food Harshi admits to eating an excess of was pizza. Whilst homemade pizzas are usually great – you can control the amount and type of cheese you use and you can load them up with toppings of healthy veggies and lean meat to make quite a
decent meal, the same generally can’t be said of the commercially produced variety.
Think of all that oozing, gooey cheesy fatness covered in processed, fat laden meats! As with sugar, the body can only use so much fat before the excess gets stored as, well, fat. Coke and pizza – a great recipe for fatness in other words.
So when Harshi decided a change in eating habits was in order to go with her cardio regime, the coke and pizza were replaced with salads and proteins and it didn’t take long for the effects to show. Ten months and 42 kilos later, her weight had dropped from 107 kilos to a much healthier 65 kilos.
Today her advice to others trying to lose weight is that diet is one of the most important components of any weight loss regime and to ditch processed foods and sugar altogether. And it’s a pretty simple concept really – excess calorie intake over and above energy requirements equals fat gain.
Once she’d lost the initial 42 kilos Harshi swapped her cardio exercise regime for one that incorporates a lot more weight lifting and resistance training in order to keep her body toned. This not only allows her to keep the weight off but has given her the sculpted look she sports today. She’s also much stronger physically – she can dead lift 130 kilos and squat 120 kilos.
Fittingly, considering that her weight loss and fitness experience began with social media, Harshi has turned back to social media to document her journey. She has kept her followers updated about her progress by using Instagram where she’s posted photos of herself before and after.
It’s netted her over 70,000 followers to date and unfortunately yet more negativity. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t, as the saying goes.
Claims of fake photos is one of the comments her detractors often come up with, saying the before and after photos don’t look like the same person. However, Harshi says that the change in her diet not only helped her shed the fat, it also changed her skin tone and quality.
Like she points out, you can see the same marks on her skin in both the before and the after shots. But that would be letting the facts get in the way of a good story. And after all, if her own mum didn’t recognize the new her then there’s a good chance strangers would easily mistake them for two different people.
Source: The Daily Mail
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A very real and significant concern when losing weight is how you’ll look. You could end up with sags and bags, or you could end up lean and buff. If your body shrinks in size as you lose weight without the skin area also “shrinking,” you could end up with loose skin hanging around your upper arms, waist, stomach, and other areas. By the time you attain your ideal size, the only solution for tightening up your skin is plastic surgery.
The Harshi Suraweera Weight Loss Story – Avoid Weight-Loss Sagging
You can avoid sagging skin by starting strength training now and continue throughout your weight-loss program and beyond as you maintain your new size. That way, your skin will shrink along with the rest of you. By the time you attain your ideal size, new people you meet will have no idea that you were ever overweight. Why? Because your skin will fit your body. Do this with strength training.
The Harshi Suraweera Weight Loss Story – Stamina, Energy, and Strength Training
You want quick results in losing weight, and you can achieve them with strength training. After only three months of two hour-long strength-training sessions a week, your body will become smaller. Your waist will be smaller, as will your upper arms, and your stomach will be flatter.
You only need to do two sessions of strength training a week. If you feel really ambitious, you can do three, but don’t do any more than that. Strength training causes small tears in the fibers of your muscles. This is good, because as they repair on your “off” days the muscles become stronger and tighter. If you do strength training every day, your muscles won’t have time to rebuild between sessions.
The Harshi Suraweera Weight Loss Story – Strength Training Approaches
- Free weights.
Very popular, easy to use, widely available. Start with 2- to 3-pound weights and add weight as your body adapts to the weight.
- Stretch tubing.
A stretchy thin tube with handles on each end. Resembles a jump rope. You can purchase in several levels of resistance.
- Flex band.
A long, wide, stretchy band used for resistance training.
- Ankle and wrist weights.
Strap them on for resistance as you do strengthening exercises.
- Body bar.
A long, weighted bar used for resistance training. May or may not have additional removable weights on either end.
- A big inflated ball on which to do exercises. Seems innocent enough, but provides really challenging strength-training exercise.
- Magic circle.
A circular handheld ring, about 15 inches in diameter with handles across from each other. By compressing the circle with legs, arms, and other body parts, you can get quite a workout.
- Pilates classes and equipment.
An exercise method that creates long, lean, and strong muscles, plus very strong abs and terrific posture.
- Exercise machines.
Set the resistance of the machines to match your strength levels.
- Power-pump classes.
Lift weights while you keep pace with the music.
Muscle weighs more than fat. Because of this, a person with higher muscle mass could weigh more, and yet wear a smaller size. In addition to using your weight as a measure of attaining your ideal size, take into account your body fat percentage.
Body Fat Percentage
Having a higher body fat percentage brings with it significant health risks including diabetes, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and autoimmune disorders.
When you have your body fat tested at a health club or at a health practitioner’s, you’ll receive a reading of body fat, water, and muscle percentages. All three add up to 100 percent. Assuming that the amount of water weight remains almost constant for each individual, the variables are body fat and muscle. The more muscle you have, the less body fat you have (and vice versa).
Here are ideal body fat percentages:
- Up to age 20: 14-21 percent
- Age 20 to 50: 17-27 percent
- Age 50+: 20-30 percent
- Up to age 20: 9-15 percent
- Age 20 to 50: 14-21 percent
- Age 50+: 19-23 percent
Understanding Body Fat
In body fat measurements, lower is usually best, but don’t go below the recommended guidelines. A person must have at least some body fat to be healthy. Fat pads internal organs such as the kidneys, and it also offers protection against cold weather. For women, the minimum recommended fat percentage is 12 percent. If a woman has less, her menstrual cycles could cease. Men must have a minimum of 5 percent to stay healthy.
Improving Your Muscles
By doing strength-training exercises for two to three hours a week, you can reduce your body fat percentage by as much as 10 percentage points within six months.
Having less body fat and more muscle gives you more energy, higher stamina, more muscle definition, and a higher metabolism. This means you’ll burn through calories faster and can eat more food without gaining weight.