60 days of #NasiLemakDiet Later…

This quote is the catalyst to the #NasiLemakDiet

“Just because the problem is hard,
doesn’t mean the solution has to be”

No doubt, losing weight is hard, but… what if the solution were so simple, you can eat 1 Nasi Lemak a day and get the shredz and the girls (and guys)?

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After 59 Nasi Lemaks in 59 days:

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I’m still alive and have a face that deserves a slap

In a previous post, I talk about how the #NasiLemakDiet is set up for success.

In this post, I’ll talk about some diet struggles, random shenanigans, insights, and Nasi Lemak recommendations.

6 Lessons from 60 days of Nasi Lemak


1. Slow is Smooth, Smooth is Fast

For a diet to succeed, there needs to be a deadline, there needs to be consequences. But more importantly, there needs to be room for shit to happen.

I don’t think setting huge goals is the way to go. Gigantic tasks paralyzes creation. You’ll likely spend most of the time asking: Where do I start?

Instead, set achievable goals bounded by achievable deadlines: In the early 70s, IBM has one of the lowest sales quota in the industry, but they kicked all their competitions’ asses. Why? Low quotas allowed IBM’s sales people to overshoot their sales quotas easily and not have a daunting and unattainable goal hanging over their heads.

It’s easier to set path towards a goal that’s visible along the horizon, rather than take the entire mammoth by the horns.

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300-500 calorie deficit over 60 days

Personally, balancing between urgency and patience is the single biggest factor in adhering to 60 days of #NasiLemakDiet, and I believe it applies to other aspects of life, too.

2. Don’t Believe your own Bullshit

2 weeks into your diet, you’ll hear voices:

“I’m not going to fit into my clothes, screw diet”
“Oh man, I’ll lose all my strength in the gym”
“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh, I’m losing my Boobs!”
“Hmmm, if eating more increases metabolism, this snicker bar will help”
“I took the stairs today, I deserve this ice cream”

Our inner voice will be our greatest deterrent. You can choose to will through it, but you can also tackle the problem through smarter goal setting

Eyes on the prize, remember why you set out on this journey.

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Write your “Why” down

3. Rewiring Social Media

Survivorship bias is the logical error of focusing on people or things that “survived”, but overlooking those that did not due to their lack of visibility. (wiki)

When failures are overlooked, any idea seems bulletproof. However, for every successful UBER, there could be 1000 failures that never made the front page of “Entrepreneur”.

The fitness industry is no stranger to this logical fallacy. In fact, we thrive on it.

“Success” testimonials by clients is the most effective strategy to draw eyes to gym memberships, diet plans, supplements, training regime by a fitness “icon”.

In reality, the ones that make the spotlight are the tip of the iceberg, floating on the fats that cling unto unsuccessful clients.

FAT

Social media perpetuates survivor ship bias, and I’d like readers to approach the #NasiLemakDiet with this awareness: I am a “survivor”.

I am a personal trainer, I have had 8 years of exercise experience, I have existing muscle mass and strength. These explain the superior results.

If you’re new to lifting weights, it’s unlikely you’ll replicate the results at my rate. But I can say with certainty: With time, you will see results.

Despite the numerous factors surrounding this equation (read here), weight loss boils down to Calories IN < Calories OUT.

“It works for me, it will work for you” is not the main reason behind the #NasiLemakDiet. I merely wish for you to take action, fail, and repeat and learn.

4. The Best Nasi Lemak!

Here’s another logical fallacy: The guy who has eaten 60 Nasi Lemaks for 60 days straight is the best judge for the tastiest Nasi Lemak. I probably have the worst taste bud to offer Nasi Lemak recommendation.

Personally, I find that all good Nasi Lemaks follow a set recipe for success: fragrant santan rice, crispy fried chicken, spicy sambal with a touch of sweetness.

So, after 60 days, here’s my verdict:

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But here’s an insight: You won’t go wrong crowds: Village Park, Nasi Lemak 223, bumbung are all decent selections.

However, for those expecting a listicle…

5. Two Must Try, Off-The-Radar Nasi Lemaks:

Nasi Lemak Wrap, La Juiceria

Skeptical

Regular readers would know my stance on “Eat Clean”, however, I cannot deny this: La Juiceria’s Nasi Lemak Wrap is a winning idea.

The fiery sambal is like paint to a canvas: the quinoa and tortilla wrap.

Adding to the taste is the well marinated (skinless) rendang chicken, crispy lettuce and cucumber. At the heart of the wrap is a soft boiled egg, with just the right runny-ness of the yolk, so you’re “eat clean” remains eat clean.

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Sambal fail: Is this still “Clean”?

Note: Anchovies and peanuts are served separately, and Quinoa replaces rice in this “Nasi Lemak”. Though i’m sure they have an option to swap it with brown rice.

Rating: 8/10

Address: Ground floor, Verve Shops, Mont Kiara. Operates from 8am to 10pm.

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Nasi Lemak Jalan Setia Indah: 

The aforementioned crowd rule applies to roadside stalls, too. You know a a spicy dish is worth your while when people sweat for it queuing under the 12pm heat.

This is my “go-to” stall for lunch. This family run stall serves a nice spread of dishes along with sambal that errs on the sweet side of the sweet-spicy spectrum (also has a unique hint of smokiness).

As a sucker for crunch and a hater of peanuts, the fresh ulam (shredded cabbage and leaves), is my favorite dish, along with their curry chicken breast that’s surprisingly tender.

Rating: 7.5/10

Address: Along Jalan Setia Indah, opposite 99 market. Operates from around 930am to 4pm.

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6. You WILL look like crap

Your weight will remain unchanged in the first few weeks of dieting.

If this doesn’t make you feel like crap, this will: Look in the mirror, you’ll probably look worse than your pre-diet state.

You now look softer, smaller, and “fluffier” than before. What the hell! Right? Here’s a simplified explanation to why “fluffyness” happens:

At a caloric deficit (where carb intake drops), muscle glycogen depletes. Muscle glycogen is what gives our muscle the “full” look. Thus, depleting muscle glycogen will make you look like you shrunk, or lose muscle “tone” in the first phases of diet.

“Then why don’t I look leaner?”

While fat loss is bound to occur at a microscopic level, it doesn’t immediately reflect visually. For every cell of fat we lose, we’re left with “fat pockets”. While these empty “fat pockets” no longer hold fat cells, they’ll be filled up with water, causing us to largely retain the “soft” look.

Imagine having to wear an oversized jacket, hiding our results.

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Saturated fat pockets + shrinking muscle size = Perfect combo to looking like crap. This is where the self-defeating talks occur.

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For lovers of surprises, good news: fat loss suddenly shows once the water flushes, and it’s not uncommon for dieters to lose 2kgs and appear slimmer overnight.

For Type-As (myself and many clients) who much prefer steady fat loss rather than a jumpy one, this can cause massive stress, increasing cortisol, which further promotes water retention; a vicious cycle.

Sadly, during the course of a diet, it’s not uncommon to face this several times.

I have no way around this, but here’s an analogy I find pertinent:

“Fat loss is like a holiday season drive on the NKVE, it ain’t smooth, and the hardest part is when you’re closest to your destination”

But the destination will be worth it.

Beauty In Chaos


Rice, anchovies, dried chili, cucumber, egg, chicken, coconut milk, wrapped within paper and leaf; basic ingredients taken for granted

Basic ingredients that amalgamate into the national food of Malaysia.

An ubiquitous personal reminder: no matter where I’m at, whatever I’m facing, how chaotic situations are, however stagnant life is, it’s not far away from an amazing end product.

Nasi Lemak Chaos

Nasi Lemak is a beautiful embodiment of order in chaos, something I’m trying to embrace rather than correct at this point of life.

In the mass 21st century movement towards better health, I hope to create appreciation, not hate for the foundation of our culture – Malaysian food.


Follow @houcheelim on Instagram as I plow through 40 more days of fat rice!

 

How to Diet like a “Tau Keh”

I write for myself, and for people needing help.

But today, I’m writing for a select few who seem to have everything right in the world: recognition, wealth, influence- The “Tau Keh”s of the world.

VADER

(I use the broad term “Tau Keh” to encompass individuals holding high positions in a company: CEOs, directors, senior managers, chairpersons, owners etc)

The “Struggle” at the Top


Backstory: several Tau Kehs that train with me struggle with their diet.

The recurrent pattern: Social obligations that involve food. They overeat in luncheons, dinners, galas, meetings etc.

A environment of “abundance” promotes overeating, and these are by no means small makan affairs, though I still don’t understand the logic of 10 course meals when 3 is more than enough.

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2 hours after dinner began. Food kept coming in even when everyone’s stuffed silly.

In social events, willpower is as useful as a plastic knife in a zombie outbreak.

On a dinner table, “No” is as hard to say as it is to be done. How do you reject a business associate’s second serving of cake? How do you leave a full bowl of food untouched when everyone’s chowing?

Tau Kehs are as human as we are. They suffer from the same diet pitfalls as we do. Going to yumcha sessions and order nothing; pass on a piece of cake handed by the birthday girl; not many of us can do that.

How do you combat this ineradicable human nature?

You don’t.

In this post, I’ll showcase 2 strategies to help tau kehs and busy adults alike navigate and win at social eating.

Prelude


These strategies follow this basic tenet: Weight loss = consume less calories than you burn.

Rule # 1: Calorie in < Calorie Out = weight loss. 

You can literally do anything with respect to this rule and lose weight, but some methods work better than others.

  1. Meal frequency: If you’re only eating 1800 calories, eating 3 meals of 600 calories is more fulfilling (and psychologically satisfying) than eating 6 meals of 300 calories.
  2. Food type: Eating mostly satiating food makes it easier to adhere to a low calorie diet.  Avoid drinking your calories.

The Clean Myth:

With wealth comes the capability to eat “better” foods, but better foods are still subject to the law of thermodynamics. Eat more, you gain more.

BATMAN

Food quality plays a huge role, but it is still subservient to calories. However “clean” a food may seem to be, there is a consumption “tipping point” that leads to weight gain, and that tipping point is going above your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (do your math here).

I’d like for everyone to understand that almost all foods are OK to consume, just be wary of your total calorie intake.

This is basically a long winded prelude to say: Don’t shun food at the company dinner of your own company. GEDDIT?! 

Dieting like a Tau Keh


1. Win at Breakfast

Let’s unleash the elephant into the room, you don’t need to eat a large breakfast.

There is no metabolic nor health benefit to consuming food immediately upon waking up. Martin Berkhan of LeanGains laid out a solid argument (point 7) on why the myth perpetuates.

Now, for those who are used to eating close to 1000 calories for breakfast, this takes time to adjust.

A small breakfast allows room for more food during lunch and dinner, where most social feeding occur.

Remember, in such events, saying no to people and food is 103424 x impossible. So, prepare beforehand.

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At the comfort of your home, eat less. Eating less doesn’t mean starve. Certain foods better suit breakfast than others.

Typical breakfast foods: cereal and milk, coffee and kaya toast, roti canai and milo, all pack tons of calories without the satiety.

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Recipe for a huge lunch.

On the other hand, low GI food combination: sweet potatoes, corn, pumpkin, casein protein powder, whey powder, eggs, bacon, fill you up due to their high fiber and protein content.

Sample first meal: Both at 400 calories (48g protein from whey/ casein), leaving me 2000 calories to consume for lunch and dinner, which looks like this:

2. Surrender Breakfast

An extreme version of strategy 1, again popularized by Martin Berkhan. For the detailed approach, check out leangains guide.

Skipping breakfast creates an even larger room for social feeding in later meals.

In short, it’s basically consuming one’s whole day’s worth of caloric intake in an 8 hour feeding window. I.e., if your first meal is at 2pm, your last meal would end at 10pm, during times outside your feeding window, consume  no calories. Zero calorie beverages are fine (coffee with stevia, americano, water etc).

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Skipping breakfast creates an even larger room for social feeding in later meals.

Having a large caloric “quota” also opens up room for that slice of cake and that bottle glass of wine.

Note: Entirely scrapping breakfast is an even harder adjustment to get used to. Anecdotally, people usually get used to it after a week, but for anyone with gastric issues, consult a physician, experiment carefully.

On Leading


I write for myself, then for people needing help.

In the sea of information, I cringe at the ones that suck. I cringe a lot.

Though it worked for me, and dozens others, I’m not naive enough to think my method is law. There are many ways to tackle a problem, and none of them may work for you.

I merely wish my writing inspires trial, and through the trial, navigate, and find your own methods.

Perhaps then, you can lead others to the right path with your approach.

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“Leading”, 1 Nasi Lemak at a time.


In a connected world, it’s easy scroll through portrayals of successful people and conclude “Wow, they’re amazing, I can never do that”.

While this is not the point of this article, I implore everyone to look at the commonalities we share these “immortals”: We share the same diet flaws, we share the same strategies to fix them.

I wanted to type something cliched like “we’re not that different after all”, but we are, and that’s the beauty of it. If it hasn’t been done, then it can’t be quantified, you don’t have to “outdo” anyone, you don’t have to outdo these superstars.

You just have to do. 

How I Lost 5kg eating Nasi Lemak for 30 days

Since February 6th, I have been eating a Nasi Lemak a day for a streak of 30 days.

On 22 February 2017, at Day 17 of this experiment. I dropped 4kgs:

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On Day 31 (8th March 2017), I lost a further 1kg

day 17 and 31

In this post, I lay out the psychological and physical strategies of the #NasiLemakDiet, and showcase the hows and whys eating Nasi Lemak is possible for weight loss.

Important: I don’t recommend anyone to do this diet. This is a personal experiment, one i’m using to analyze my own eating habits and help people who are lead nowhere by “traditional” dieting advice. Please take away more than “omg this guy lost weight eating Nasi Lemak, I can do the same too” without further context.

The Body


The 6-step guide to Nasi Lemak weight loss:

  1. Calculate your maintenance calories, eat 20% below that.

  2. Within that calorie deficit, eat 1.5- 2g of protein per kg body weight (e.g., 60kg bodyweight, eat 90 to 120g protein).

  3. Eat 1g of fiber per 100 calories you consume (i.e., 2000 calories, 20g fiber).

  4. Eat 1 Nasi Lemak meal a day.

  5. Eat mostly whole foods to fill rest of your meals/ calories.

  6. Lose weight, troll people, win at life.

Why this works?

Somewhere, somehow, we got our nutritional priorities wrong.

It’s not the type of food, it’s not supplements, it’s not eating after 7pm,

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…not this too.

It’s not carbs, it’s not fat, it’s not beer, it’s not sugar. It’s not noodles vs rice.

It is the amount of food you eat. Amount = Calories

Your calorie intake is by far the most important factor in weight loss. But don’t quote me saying they are the only factor.

I wrote an entire series detailing why this is the case: 101, 102, 103, and 104. I suggest you go through it to grasp the concepts of calorie counting.

Health

(For a deeper understanding of the topic. Renaissance Periodization, 3DMJ, Alan Aragons Research Review, Lyle Mcdonald are online treasure troves that deserve much, much more attention.)

The Mind


There are 6 psychological “tricks” I’ve applied to “hack” this diet, raising the success rate.

1. Create accountability

On day 0: I posted this FB status: If I don’t lose 8 kg in 100 days, eating a Nasi Lemak a day, I’ll be RM750 poorer.

I also booked a video shoot in May for my company- FITBOX, with myself as the talent. No business owner in his right mind wants a fat ass to model for his company.

Negative reinforcement is a powerful tool. Fear of losing is oftentimes more powerful motivator than incentives.

2. 0 choices = 0 distractions

We make more than 200 food related decisions a day; that’s a ton of cognitive load.

As absurd as this sounds, having to eat a serving of Nasi Lemak everyday nullifies much of my food decision making.

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Side note: Variety increases eating capacity. Do you stop at one plate in buffets?

When dieting: “Should I eat? Where should I eat? What should I eat? How much should I eat?” are questions that shatter an already weakened willpower, leading me to my next point.

3. Environment

“It’s far easier to change our environment than to change our mind”.

The week prior to the Nasi Lemak Diet, I “cleansed” my kitchen and fridge.

I devoured 3 packets of Tim Tams and 3 x 1 liter boxes of ice cream. Not recommended, but this “purification” was the set up to a pain free diet.

It had to be done: convenience and accessibility leads to consumption.

If I had to make eye contact with Tim Tams every time pass the kitchen, I had a life changing decision to make. Even after 10 successful “No”s, it just takes a big, fat, delicious “Yes” to create a 500 calorie dent in my diet. Tim Tams make are my kryptonite.

“Your willpower sucks.”

Indeed, thus I don’t rely on it. Reliance on will power posits that it has to be ON 24/7. There will be a point where it exhausts. Designing my environment to work for me, rather than the opposite was the main idea behind the “cleanse”.

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4. Convenience

I can get 2 delicious Nasi Lemaks within 5 minutes from my place. I just pop by the stalls on the way home. In one stall, I don’t even need to leave the car (McDonald’s who?).

Clean or not, forcing yourself to eat somewhere 30 minutes from your home/ workplace isn’t ideal. Not to mention the absurd price point (a digression worth getting into)

For busy adults, lack of convenience is a major hindrance to a diet adherence.

Pick an accessible place, it’s a decent trade off.

5. Fun

I’m having a ton of fun doing this. The whole process is enjoyable.

From posting daily Nasi Lemak on Instagram, to writing daily takeaways from eating Nasi Lemak, to seeing a weekly drop on the scale, to envisioning my final physique on shoot day.

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to playing with food

(and an even absurd goal, to grace a magazine cover holding a packet of Nasi Lemak).

It’s extremely important to have complete enthusiasm and delight in whatever you do, even if it’s dieting.

6. Chill

Setting an achievable goal is extremely important,

However, people set up to absurd “outcomes”: Lose 10kg in a month to get into a wedding dress, to get beach ready.

8kgs in 100 days is doable for me, if broken down, it’s a 600g weekly drop. Also, instead of setting goals, I set habits – 3x a week of weight training and at least 5x a week of eating below 2.5k calories, not perfect but within my capacity.

What If?


Will I see better results if I eat “better” foods?

Of course.

I’d love a good bowl of brown rice, grilled chicken, vegetables, they’re awesome. I’d probably lose weight faster as it’s a more satiating dish than Nasi Lemak.

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I could eat this everyday.

But I don’t have the time, nor do I want to spend an astronomical fee for food that doesn’t necessarily translate to superior health or results.

For the hardcore #fitspo crowd, i’ll probably be criticized for my lack of willpower, strength, determination, compassion, IQ, culture, humor, righteousness, sexual prowess…

But honestly, I just don’t have the fucking time, and I don’t want to make time for it.

For the busy crowd out there, via the #NasiLemakDiet, I want to showcase that lack of time or budget to “eat clean” is not a curtain call to your fitness journey.

I eat Nasi Lemak everyday to lower the barrier of entry into “fitness”. Fitness should fit into your lifestyle, not the other way around.

Day 0 to 17 to 31


The journey is far from over, I have 69 (lol) more days of Nasi Lemak adventures to go. Follow me on Instagram or check out the hashtag #NasiLemakDiet !