“Most people think that if they work out, they’ll look like a body builder,” says Brett Gold, a personal trainer at the Kauai Athletic Club in Kapaa.
He’s responding to my grumblings about not having lost more weight in the last four months.
“Only about 1 percent of the population has the level of discipline needed to maintain an intense diet and exercise regimen,” he says.
With a black belt in karate, Gold is tough. Not with a drill sergeant approach, but in a manner that pushes me way beyond my comfort zone. He wrenches every wisp of energy from my quaking muscles. Right now, my triceps quiver as I place my hands on the bar, push down until my arms are extended, hold, and give a little squeeze.
“It’s not about looking like a model,” continues Gold, winner of the 1993 Mr. USA Masters Division for body sculpting. “It’s about being healthy. A strong body keeps you from getting hurt as you age. Strong legs give you good balance, so you won’t fall.”
It’s true. Besides losing five pounds and three inches from my waist, I stand taller and sit straighter. In the first week, I noticed things became easier. I could steadily lift and carry laundry baskets and grocery bags. My legs quickly carry me up stairs. I have more energy, so I get more stuff done. I’m less stressed, so I’m in a better mood and I’m able to sleep through the night.
When I started this journey, I asked Jane Riley, a KAC trainer and contributing writer for The Garden Island newspaper, if it was possible for a food writer to lose weight. She told me that 70 percent of significant weight loss is due to a proper diet. It’s been daunting, but I’m determined.
“I eat out between six and eight times a week,” says Joshua Nations, owner of KAC.
“I get to know the staff at a restaurant and I’m nice to them. As a result, I can ask a lot of questions about how they make food and they don’t mind customizing my order.”
When Nations scans a menu, he’s looking for lean proteins such as chicken or fish, lots of vegetables and whole grains. If the description says creamy or fried, he moves on until he finds something grilled, steamed or lightly sautéed.
“When I call JJ’s Broiler, Kalapaki Joe’s or Olympic Cafe and say, ‘Hey it’s Josh,’ they know to make me a spinach salad, they’re going to leave off the bacon and they’re going to put the dressing on the side.”
A typical restaurant will ladle two to three tablespoons of dressing on an otherwise healthy salad. Nations says all you need is one tablespoon, which spares me about 160 calories on my 1300-calorie-a-day-diet.
“I love Kauai Pasta,” says Nations. “I usually go there to pig out, but when I’m eating healthy, I go for the whole grain pasta with tomato sauce and add a grilled chicken breast.”
At Verde, Nations orders the ahi tacos with guacamole because healthy fats are necessary for good nutrition. Besides using fresh avocados and little else, there are plenty of gluten-free and vegetarian options.
Owner Maris Manzano is a fitness buff who sweats it out in the “Bodypump” class at KAC. She created Verde’s Healthy Thursday and every week customers can order a meal that’s less than 400 calories and loaded with local ingredients. This month, it’s the Power Breakfast Burrito with Makaweli Meat Company grass-fed beef, purple sweet potatoes, Govinda Farm spinach and Kauai Fresh Farm eggs.
My husband Dan and I have committed to one year. You can follow our progress in the next installment, which will offer tips for making healthy meals at home. In the meantime, we’ll see you at the gym!