Super Size Me?

OK, the mass media bombardment of the famous golden arches on every TV commercial, billboard and magazine was tolerable once, but now, its reached the point of insanity. That's right- I'm talking about McDonalds. Now let me just clarify that I have nothing against the corporation, they are after all profit making business- just like any other food company, but could they be exaggerating? Maybe just a little bit? It's hard enough having to listen to their mind numbing slogans and jingles on the radio, but having your kids chant it all day, or your bimbo friend hum it every odd hour (maybe just to irritate you), makes me want to smash things.

I have to admit it though, those repetitive ad campaigns have done a good job at brainwashing the junk food-eating society that we have become. Mc.D were smart enough to reap our souls at a young age, and drag us into their world of international corporate butchery. Their catechism would start by promoting those must-have plastic toys, that everyone at school seemed to be obsessing over, and if you didn't get one soon, it would mean a total abolishment of your adolescent social life. Then, there was the sugar. As if a bucket of coca cola and a sundae drowned in syrup wasn't enough to get kids going, they added sugar to their sauces, buns and fries too. No wonder children are always so perky and hopped up in there! The company has accomplished their plan to get you to think that Mcdonalds is equal to hype... lots of it. It's as if they've discretely implanted a mechanism in your brain that makes you auto-respond with: “YEAHH”, “Oh My God YES!” or maybe just a jackalope-like bounce and leap every time your parents suggested going to the fast food Utopia.

So, harvesting the young wasn't too hard. What about the adults? What makes them keep going there? even after their sugar-binging juvenile days? For one, the simple fact that we are used to seeing a McDonalds logo or banner in every commercial street, newspaper, and TV station, gives us a subliminal feeling of familiarity. If you're travelling to a foreign country for the first time, you might feel disoriented at first, but when you catch a glimpse of the golden arches, you automatically feel more at ease- just for the simple reason that you've sighted something that this country has in common with your own. Yeah, most of us are used to seeing McDonalds for years, and somehow, it gets conventionally embedded into our lifestyle.

Let's face it, society grows lazier by the day. When it's time to eat, we want to do it without cooking, waiting or spending obscene amounts of cash. That's exactly where McDonalds comes in. They provide their customers with quick, tasty and inexpensive delights- the perfect concoction for a successful food empire. We love that we can buy a meal with a couple of dollars, and Mc.D seem to have special offers, promotions, and new snacks all the time. The one thing, however that it does not provide us with, is enough healthy alternatives.

It's true that they have a range of salads, but if you plan on dumping the pre-packaged dressing it comes with, then you're probably better off nibbling at a McToast, or a small burger instead. Just an FYI- the dressing might consist of more calories than the salad itself (depending on what you order). Here's a quick calorie crunch so that you know what I'm on about. A large coke is equal to 400 calories, a grilled chicken salad contains 120 calories, the Ranch dressing has 230 calories and a large fries adds another 500 calories. A total of just under 1300 calories. Sure, they might make it seem healthy, but always be aware what you're mixing with what. Now this does not mean that you have to abolish fast food for eternity, maybe you might want to steer clear of it if you're dieting and can't handle the smell of greasy meat, but otherwise, try opting for a diet coke instead of the original, and cut the fries off- they're packed with sodium. If you manage to incorporate these substitutes, your net calorie intake will drop to just 400 calories. Not bad, considering it's fast food.

All in all, the golden arches have conquered the planet with their world-wide advert barrage, modifying us into a plumpish population. However, a few positive things that make McDonalds praiseworthy, is that it seems to make people content with it's friendly atmosphere and staff and this seems to be absent in other grease-huts. Additionally, they have lately added the nutritional content on every box of burgers and fries which is nice of them to do, although we remain deprived of some of the salads and beverage nutrition content, could it be work in progress? I hope so.

Popping Your Diet Virginity

Your first diet always starts on a good not; you've got your meal plan ready, your new track suits for running, or maybe you might have even invested in a heap of "home gym" equipment like the super duper ab-blaster or handy dandy belly-burner that the "Vin Diesel" look a like at the gym said that he can't live without. On top of it all, everyone seems to be supporting you on your healthy decision.

The first couple of days don't seem too bad, in fact you might even start "boasting" to your friends about how committed you are, and how proud of yourself you felt when you walked past that fast food joint and didn't stop in for your usual pizza slice.

A week finally passes, which means that today you're "granted" a moment to relieve that curiosity that has been growing inside you. You can now weigh yourself for the first time during your diet and enjoy the fruits of your labor. You take your shoes off and dart to the bathroom. While a surge of excitement passes through your body, you step on the scale-that you always loathed. You glare wide-eyed with anticipation at that wobbling meter which can't seem to make it's mind up, and at the precise second that it stops moving, the meter gives you a slap of reality. It's the same feeling as if all your hopes and dreams have plummeted into a pit of despair. You're outraged, and you begin to mumble to yourself, "I've lost TWO pounds? JUST two?!" Of course, that isn't enough for you.

Your mind flashes back to all those moments you had to go through during the past week, and you ponder whether all of that was really worth it. You remember that time you were sitting next to your colleague, the guy that gorged away at his juicy cheeseburger, dripping bacon grease all over your paper napkin, while you sat there and munched away at your carrot sticks. That other time you went to dinner with your significant other, he ordered the peppered steak with jacket potatoes, and you went for the Caesar salad, of course, without any dressing or croutons. You recall the heavenly smell of his steak that made your mouth water, and the way you had to force yourself to grin at him while he ranted on about his new video game, and all you were really doing was looking at his mouth gnaw and gulp a delicious piece of divine goodness.

You snap out of your thoughts of disappointment, go to work, and start crunching your celery like a 5 year old being forced to eat his broccoli. A few more days go by, it's 8:00pm and you're on the couch watching TV. Suddenly, that box of forgotten "Ferrero Rocher" in the top cabinet comes to mind, you're too tired and desperate to reason out how many calories each bite contains, or whether its really a good idea to be eating carbs at this time. In a rush, you shred the foil off of the chocolate and stuff yourself senseless. You have finally given in to that guilty satisfaction that has been lurking in the depths of your thoughts all day. When it's too late, and all the candy is gone, you realize that you've squandered ten days of counting calories, enduring cravings, and eating the sour-tasting "diet" version of every food product. Congratulations, you've had your first diet flop!

There are always a few dieting tips that can make your diet work, unfortunately I found that out after many dieting attempts. I however have learned this: the Key to a successful diet and to reaching your target weight, is actually finding a regime that does NOT feel like a burden, but that can rather be converted into a lifestyle. You need all your necessary tools to make your mind have a positive attitude on healthy eating and exercise, be it inspiration, motivation from a family member, advice from a nutritionist, or just strong will-power, this is something anyone can certainly achieve.

Remember, with the right approach, knowledge and determination, anything can be done.


  • Do I need to lose weight?
If you are overweight, then yes, you need to lose weight. Doctors define overweight as a condition in which a person's
weight is 15-20% higher than normal, as defined by a standard height/weight chart. If you want to know whether you are overweight, you can check by visiting and imputting your height and weight. Note however that this isn't 100% accurate, and it does not take into account your muscle mass.

  • Do diets really work?
If you're overweight, chances are that a good diet will give you the results you want. The key to losing weight effectively however is not only finding the most suitable diet for your body type, but also incorporating a set of exercises to be carried out daily. It's also important to plan all your meals and exercise time. If you feel that you need help chosing which diet is suitable for you, you can research the various diet plans on the internet and try the one you feel you can execute fully. Don't try a diet which you know you won't stick to. Also, making an appointment at a nutritionist will definately help you with your conquest to lose weight.

  • What is a calorie?
Contrary to popular belief, a calorie is not a measure of fat, it is however a metric unit of energy. So yes, when we are counting calories, we count the amount of energy each food piece contains. The more saturated food is (meat forexample) the higher the calorie count will be, however foods like lettuce which are not saturated, and which are made up mainly of water, are extremely low on calories.
Food is made up of Fats, Proteins and Carbohydrates. Protein contains 4 calories per gram, carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram also, while fat contains 9 calories per gram. Calories from fat are more easily stored as fat, than are calories from carbohydrates.

  • Do I need to count calories to lose weight?
It is not a strict must, however I would say that the majority of people that are dieting do count calories. You can do this easily by purchasing small booklets which contain a calorie index of most food types, or simply by using websites such as or to look up how many calories the food you're eating contains.

  • How many calories should I eat every day?
The average adult varies around a calorie intake of 2000-3000 calories a day.
Every body type has different needs, if you work out alot, you will need more calories than average, also men need to consume more calories than women. On average the human body needs at least 1200 calories per day to survive and function normally.

A way you can calculate your needed calorie intake is:
Your personal energy requirement=basic energy requirements + extra energy requirements
Basic energy requirement includes your basal metabolic rate (BMR) and general daily activities
- For every Kg (1 kilogram = 2.2lb) of body weight, 1.3 Calories is required every hour(assuming you perform general daily activities.If you have a sedentary job, your required calories might be less).
For a calculation of your BMR, visit
-Extra energy requirements- for each hour of training you require an additional 8.5 Calories for each kg of body weight.

*remember-for an accurate evaluation of your calorie requirements, visit a nutritionist*

  • Should I count calories or carbs? or both?
people find it beneficial to eat less carbohydrates (diets suggest eating 20 net grams to 60 net grams of carbs for a couple of weeks) because carbohydrates cause cravings. This is because eating carbohydrates raises insulin, which then lowers blood sugar. This causes a desire (or craving) for more food and, in some people, for more carbohydrates.

I would recommend counting calories first, by finding how much calories you need to eat each day to lose weight. Remember to opt for regular healthy meals. If you eat one meal a day which contains all your daily calorie needs, it is likely that your body will not function properly.

If you've tried the calorie diet, and have had negative or no results, and if you are a big carb eater (eating pasta,noodles, white bread 2-3 times a day) you might want to consider counting carbs. Note: Many low carb diets insist that you buy vitamin tablets.
Some low-carb diets worth mentioning are:
The Atkins diet, Eskimo style diet and South Beach diet.

Some people try combining Atkins diet with calorie counting diet which doesn't always work, as the atkins diet needs fat for the diet to work well. However it is good to keep at least an average calorie intake when on a low-carb diet.

  • How do I know if i am losing weight effectively?
A simple rule is, if you are not losing a Minimum of 2lbs per week, then the diet is probably not right for you. Remember to weigh yourself early in the morning, before breakfast and before drinking anything, for a clearer indication of your weight. Also, make sure to include cardio exercise in you plan (at least 30 mintues a day).

Diet Tips - Exercise

Feel The Burn!

  • If you have equipment at home, try to position them in front of the TV so that you can work out while watching your favorite shows or Dvds. If you are doing something repetitive such as running on a treadmill, you will pay more attention to the TV and the time will pass much quicker.

  • If and only if you are in a situation where you have nothing to do, nowhere to go, and already done your daily dose of exercise, play video games. Really, if you really get into it, some games can make the time fly by and make you forget about your cravings. I would recommend a good Mmorpg. If you don't know what this is, try asking your kids, or just use google :)

  • The worst thing you can do, is sit around bored. This will likely result into snacking. Make a list of all the things you can do when you're not busy; going out for a walk, playing computer games, reading a good book etc.

  • Listen to music that motivates you.

  • In an a book written by "Nan Allison" she says that High concentrations of endorphins in the brain produce a sense of euphoria, enhance pleasure, and suppress pain, both emotionally and physically. When endorphins are low, people feel anxious; they are also more aware of pain. They have an appetite for fat and fatty foods, such as fries, cheese, creamy sauces, margarine, butter, fried chicken, potato chips, and chocolate, to name some of the most popular examples. Upon eating some fat, they will notice a change in mood, feeling more pleasure. This feeling is related to a higher concentration of endorphin. Exercise, by releasing fat from within the body, raises endorphins and causes the same mood changes.This can be one other reason to exercise.

  • Always keep moving! Even if you are bored at work on your desk, try moving your toes and fingers. Every calorie counts =)

  • Remember not to limit your exercise to crunches, sit ups, and weight lifting. Good cardio exercise will melt the belly fat right off, sit-ups are more of a "toning" exercise to pump up the abdominal muscles. Cardio exercises include running, fast walking, cycling, jogging, swimming and rowing. A good plan is to do 30 about 30 minutes of one of these a day.

  • If you are a "morning" person and tend to be less energetic in the evening, try to fit your exercise plan before you go to work, as this might have better results. Although the most important thing when it comes to exercising is consistency, remember to find a good time of day that is right for YOU.

  • It is always a good thing to fuel your body up before a work out. If you are going to exercise for less than an hour, you will need food that digest easily. High-carb, low fat foods, such as crackers or bread. If you are going to exercise for longer than an hour, choose carbohydrates that last longer, such as yogurt or a banana.(Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook, 1997) Note: remember to give your body some time to digest the food before you work ( at least half an hour) out otherwise this may result into cramping.

  • Avoid eating high fat proteins before exercising, peanut butter and red meat can make you feel weary during your work out.

  • Don't get TOO into it. Remember it isn't a good idea to lose too much weight, remember, you are aiming to be Healthy. If you think you may be underweight I strongly suggest you visit a nutritionist

  • While working out, try to listen to upbeat, fast music, this will actually make you work out faster because your brain will naturally try to adapt your pace with the beat of the music.

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