Wanna get in shape? Do it yourself or with some professional guidance

Edition 30 August 2018, by Jeroen Spangenberg

Getting in shape with professional guidance might be a better idea than trying to lose weight on your own. When you are not in shape or you are overweight, it is because your life is not balanced. You are operating in a vicious cycle that eventually leads to self-destruction. In order to get out of this self-destructive behavior, some coaching could be very helpful.

Maybe you are an emotional eater and can relax only after acting like Cookie Monster, but your body suffers. The underlying emotions making your eat are perhaps that you are stressed because of your busy job or your annoying boss. Or maybe you feel lonely after a divorce. However, overeating is not the best solution. If you want to feel better, you can also hit the gym. By exercising you produce endorphins which will make you feel happy again. If you eat a lot of chocolate or drink alcohol your body also generates endorphins, but these products will make you fat. Even if you are not an emotional eater, your schedule may be unhealthy. Imagine you are an auditor, for example, and get up around 6 or 7 o’clock, get into your car to work, you sit behind your computer all day making calculations and checking invoices. At noon you have a short break, you take the elevator to the lunchroom and end behind your desk again. In the evening, if you are lucky you leave around 19:00, but some days it will be around 21:00. You park your car, start watching tv or go straight to bed. If you come home around 19:00, you might prepare some dinner accompanied by wine. If you come home around 21:00 you might order some junk food with soda, since you don’t want the hassle of cooking. This is a typical day for auditors, or anyone with a busy desk job, and it’s the same every workday. Basically, you do little exercise during the work week, which leaves the weekend for many people to hit the gym. Still, I have seen many auditors who were not fat, but were quite in shape. So, what is the secret of auditors and other people with such a schedule for staying in shape?

Actually, it is quite easy to understand. If you don’t get a lot of exercise, just eat less. If you eat less, you will not become fat so quickly. Don’t drink sodas containing lots of sugars; there are many brands that contain zero sugar. However, perhaps the best is just to go back to basic. Just drink water, milk, tea and other products that come directly from nature. If water doesn’t sound so appealing, make it appealing by adding some mint leaves and some slices of lemon. Also, try to be moderate with alcohol, since it contains a lot of calories. Try to limit juice, since it contains a lot of sugar. Fruits contain a lot of natural sugar, but in the factory even more sugar might be added. You can make your own juice or preferably eat fruits, since they contain more fibers the juices. Juice contains as much sugar as sodas, thus increasing your risk of diabetes. Don’t eat pre-made food with all kinds of preservatives. Just prepare your own food. Don’t eat the same stuff every day; variation is important. For example, one day you eat chicken with rice and vegetables, the next day you eat meat with potatoes and vegetables, the next day you eat pasta with cheese and vegetables, the next day you eat a big salad. Potatoes and bread contain a lot of carbs, so try to limit your intake of these products. You can replace bread in the morning by yoghurt with nuts and some fruits. Unsalted nuts like walnuts are very healthy. Instead of eating cereals full of sugar, choose oatmeal or muesli.

Probably you are unaware how much sugar and salt many products in the supermarket contain. The mobile application Questionmark tells you if a product is healthy or unhealthy by scanning the barcode of the product in the supermarket. It works for most products. Don’t forget to be moderate with products like juices, sodas, alcohol, chocolate, potatoes and bread, and you will stay fit more easily.

Popular diets of 2018

The Ketogenic diet is a low-carb diet that is even more low-carb than the existing diets. The idea is that you burn fat easily by eating fewer carbs, since you don’t take in the glucose from the carbs. The diet involves eating meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy such as butter, cheese and cream, healthy fats such as oils, nuts, seeds and avocados and low-carb vegetables such as green vegetables, tomatoes, onions, pumpkins and bell peppers. The starchy vegetables, cereals and dairy products such as milk, yogurt and natural and refined sugars should be avoided.

The Raw food diet means you only eat raw food, since the cooking of food might kill the enzymes that are necessary for digestion and the prevention of diseases. Everything needs to be consumed under 40 degrees Celsius. If it is cooked, processed or posturized, it does not fit this diet.

The Alkaline diet looks at the pH-level of food. Alkaline foods are fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds. Acidic foods, that need to be avoided, are meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, cereals and alcohol.

The Dukan diet and the Whole 30 diets are also a popular trend. If you want professional advice on nutrition, there are many nutritionists you can contact. For example, GOH concept has in-house nutritionists in Amsterdam. Health club Jordaan gives nutrition coaching. Furthermore, Fullbloom and Shape-All-In has gym and food coaches. In order to become healthy, a lifestyle coach that coaches you is necessary when you have a busy schedule. Most expats don’t have much time to research healthy lifestyles or they have a schedule that makes it hard to live healthily. In these cases a coach can create a training program and help you with your diet. By setting goals with your coach, it is easier to achieve them than if you have to do it all on your own. Instead of going to a gym and finding a coach, you can also look online at fitsociety.nl to find your coach.

Popular trends this year are for example eating vegetable snacks, like carrots or little snack tomatoes. Seaweed is gaining popularity; it is really a power food, containing a lot of proteins. Therefore many vegetarians eat it, since they don’t get the proteins that come from meat. Sushi is made with seaweed for example. You can also just take seaweed as a snack; however, your colleagues might think Spongebob is sitting next to them. In your defense, it is super healthy.

Insects like grasshoppers also contain a lot of proteins and they don’t cause that much damage to the environment as for example cows. Grasshoppers could become the next healthy snack. The Lepsis is a terrarium for growing edible bugs at home. Dutch supermarket Plus also sells grasshoppers, but don’t expect them to be cheap. This is why most people will prefer a nice looking and tasty steak. Before insects can become popular as a real food, it is necessary to process them so that they don’t look like insects. When we eat pink cookies or pastries (roze koeken), the pink color is made from lice, but we don’t notice we are eating them. If grasshoppers start to look as appealing as “roze koeken”, we might make the switch to insects.

Poke is a new trend which is basically a raw fish salad. Salad bars are opening in different cities that offer poke bowls, a selection of your preferred vegetables with raw fish. Many restaurants now serve small vegetables, simply because many people don’t finish their portions and restaurants don’t like to throw away food. Salad bars might work in New York, but whether they gains enough popularity in the Netherlands remains to be seen.

Chaga mushrooms are also a superfood. They enhance the immune system and relieve irritations of the digestive system. They contain a lot of healthy fibers. There are many more superfoods that are already well-known, such as broccoli, but new ones like chaga always cropping up.

Another new health concept that is gaining popularity is the treatment by Freezlab. It offers cryotherapy, an ancient method of exposing the body to extreme cold. Basically, you go into a very cold chamber for three minutes. After three minutes, your blood flows through your whole body and your immune system is revitalized. It also has positive effects on your skin and the metabolism by producing collagen. The chamber cools down to -110 degrees Celsius, so that the extreme cold will kill viruses and bacteria. Also, endorphins and serotonins are released, which makes this treatment perfect to fight depression. After a going into the sauna, you can jump into a cold bath. This treatment is comparable to a cold bath, but is probably more effective. According to Freezlab there are no side effects.

If you want to lose weight fast, you can go to Easyslim.nu, which offers a treatment that uses new techniques to lose weight effectively. “Through treatments with the system, bodyfat is removed via ultrasound technique, while at the same time muscles are built up through electrical stimulation. As a result, even cellulite will disappear and flabby skin will get tight again. What you cannot even achieve with a strict diet or an intense sporting regime is now possible!”

Also, there are more spiritual treatments offered to lose weight, for example losing weight under hypnotherapy. For many people this probably raises some skepticism. The only way to find out if it works is to try it or to read more about it yourself.

If you want to lose weight or work on your health while also enjoying the company of others, you can opt to join Expat Bootcamp. “A new Bootcamp concept, designed for expats in Amsterdam, created for Bootcamp lovers. The training method is not new, but the idea of the Expat Bootcamp is that expats in Amsterdam can meet each other or other folks from Amsterdam during these workout sessions. So, with our Bootcamp club you can get in shape and make new contacts at the same time!” Another company that offers boot camps in several cities is “The Bootcamp Club”.

If you are an expat, you might be able to afford these new treatments to lose weight or to become healthier. You can also go to health centers that offer coaching in the gym on nutrition and lifestyle. Bootcamps are also quite nice, since you get to know more people, which is always nice if you are an expat. Coaching in general is very beneficial, since you can track your goals and work towards them with guidance. If, however, you just want to do it on your own, just keep some basics in mind to live healthily. Exercise at least 30 minutes a day. Cut down your sugar intake, such as sodas, juices, candy and unhealthy snacks. Limit your alcohol consumption and go back to basic natural products, such as milk, water and tea. Eat a lot of vegetables and add healthy herbs to your dish. Herbs contain many vitamins and nutrients. For more information about different kinds of herbs and how they help your body and health, read the “Encyclopedia of herbal medicine” by Andrew Chevallier. Besides herbs and vegetables, start to prepare food yourself, instead of eating premade food and sauces. If you lack time to cook, visit one of the Poke salad bars.Other things you can do are downloading an app that counts your daily steps. It can run in the background and you can see at the end of the day, week and month what you have achieved. Don’t forget to download Questionmark, which tells you if products in the supermarket are healthy or not by scanning the barcode. If all these tips are too much effort, you can also try to eat less, but in order to really get in shape you need to exercise. The summer is coming to its end, so now is the time to get in shape for the next one.