Two months ago, my friend Craig appraoched me on the tennis court and asked me how I stayed fit.  My answer was simple and will never change: “a good diet and plenty of exercise”.  This sounds very easy in theory but executing it is much harder than it seems.  Craig had packed on about 50 pounds over the years from the stress of Dental school, married life and an addiction to fast food.   In his day, craig was a hell of a tennis player. Now Carrying an extra 50 pounds, Craigs tennis game had slowed quite a bit.  After a little negotiating, we agreed to work out a little barter wherby I would train Craig to lose the weight and he would train me to be a competitive tennis player.

Killing the old habits.

After my first tennis lesson consiting of ground stroke practice and restructuring my serve, we sat down to discuss Craigs current diet.  Craig began explaining his eating habits while sipping on a 32 ounce Powerade.  The first thing I asked him was “are you going to drink that whole 32 ounce bottle. His answer of course was “yeah why”?  What Craig didn’t ralize is that the serving size for his  favorite after tennis drink was only 8 ounces.  So, at 90 calories per serving he was taking in 360 calories along with sugars and a lot of sodium.  Now aware of his bad habits, Craig then began to realize that every little thing counts. Our conversation continued…… 

Craigs biggest bad habbit was skipping breakfast. Eating a healthy breakfast is not a figment of your mothers imagination.  Breakfast is the meal that kickstarts your day and your metabolism. We switched Craig from eating cereal bars on his way to work to eating several egg whites with one yolk and some plain oatmeal.

Craig then told me that he would work about 5 hours before taking his lunch. OUCH! 5 hours is much too long to go without food. Your body needs to be fed every few hours to keep your metabolism up. Craig now eats a handful of almonds, peanuts, a bannana, an apple or some lowfat yogurt inbetween his breakfast and lunch.  

Moving on to lunch, Craig mentioned that he usually ate at Wendy’s or Subway for lunch. I convinced Craig that he needed to drop Wendy’s food completely and follow some dietary rules at subway.

  1. Stick to 6 inch subs on wheat at subway( Lowers his carb and colorie intake beacuse he is now eating half of his usual footlong) 
  2. No cheeses or Mayonaise. ( These are full of saturated fat and fat calories)
  3. Getting double meat with all the veggies and mustard only(Being used to a foot long the double meat and veggies will fill him up)
  4. No soda. Instead try a  70/30 Iced tea and Lemonade( Sodas are sugary and full of carbonation- bad for diets)
  5. No Chips (Chips are often full of sodium, carbohydrates and fat calories)

With lunch now out of the way we only had to discuss a few more things: another snack, dinner and desserts. Snack two should be a little larger than snack number one.  The goal is to fill yourself up a bit more before dinner so that you don’t fill yourself up with so much food before bed. Americans have developed a bad habit for eating large late dinners. Night time is when your metabolism slows down to prepare you for bedtime.  Why would you feed yourself the biggest meal when your processing ability is slowest?  My advice to Craig was to eat a big snack like a filling fruit smoothie, a half a turkey sandwich, a small salad, a small serving of brown rice with a chicken breast etc.  Essentially this  2nd snack is really a small meal.  By the time you get to dinner you should barely want to eat much. 

Dinner

Working fatty steaks, burgers and pasta out of Craig’s diet wasn’t easy but knowing that his afternoon snack would fill him up, he only needed to know the following:  

  1. Shoot for low carbohydrate, low sugar and low fat meals. 
  2. When Eating dinner out- make it a point to take half of your meal home for your next days snack.
  3. Try to cook or order grilled chicken, low fat beef burgers with no buns or cheese, salads with vinegar based dressings, brown or basmati rices, steamed green vegetables, or non-fried fish.

Dessert

When I think of the word dessert I think of the word deserve. Unless you are a work out fiend and you have burned enough calories in the day to deserve a 500 calorie treat then stay away.  Desserts are sure way to ruin a diet but there is a way to have your cake and eat it too.  If you can’t cut out desserts altogether than try to make these changes.

  1. Cut your daily dessert intake down gradually until you only eat dessert one or two times a week.
  2. Most importantly, eat your sinful delight after lunch rather than after dinner.  You will have a better chance of working off that dessert before bedtime if you have a 6 or 7 hour head-start. 

Craigs Results

Craig lost 8 pounds in his first week by following my diet advice alone. He admitted that the first few days were hard but once he got used to it, he began to enjoy all the food and feel more energetic. By week two Craig had lost a total of 14 pounds and several inches on his waist. By week three Craig had lost 18 pounds and admitted that he had no desire to eat any junk food. After 30 days, Craig lost a whopping 22 pounds and had to buy all new clothes.  With most of Craig’s belly fat out of the way, I began to work in some weight training. Since Craig’s goal was to get faster on the tennis court, we had to strengthen his muscles by performing relevant exercises.  I put Craig through a circuit training regimen of light squats, lunges, seated rows, chest press, shoulder press, and exercise ball crunches.

Now knowing that weight training would actually cause Craig to gain muslce weight, I told Craig not to get discouraged if his weightloss slowed. To date Craig has lost a total of 26 pounds and has increased his physical strength by about 30 percent.  His goal is to lose another 20 pounds and gain more muscle tone. Ill let you all know when we get there. Rememeber you are only as good as your commitment.  If Craig can do it, you can do it.