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How We Lost a Lot of Weight in Korea

August 29, 2012


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This week’s TL;DR is a question we have been getting a lot ever since we started to lose weight…you can guess where I’m going with this: how DID we lose the weight?

Basic rundown of what we went over in this video: we really don’t like calling this a diet, because it is more of a lifestyle change that we are sticking to, rather than just a quick fix diet to lose weight. The main step we took was cutting majority of carbs out of our diet including white rice, white noodles, and things made with white flour. Simple rule: don’t eat anything white, except for Cauliflower.

Note: we sure as hell picked the WRONG country to live in for this kind of a diet. HAHAHAHAHaaaaaaaa *sobs* Korean twisted donuts (꽈배기 gwabaegi) I MISS YOU EVERYDAY!!! *ahem* I mean, lifestyle change FIST PUMP TO THE SKY!

I’m sure there is some scientific study out there to back me up, but it seems that if you grow up eating white rice or pasta, your body digests it differently than someone who later on in life incorporates it into their diets. That is the only way I can account for the fact that my Korean friends can eat SO MANY THOUSANDS OF POUNDS OF WHITE RICE AND NOODLES and not gain weight! Seriously, yo: how…how are people here so skinny after eating all those carbs? As for us, white rice just stores fat on us like we are grizzly bears going into hibernation.

It doesn’t help that it is really, really hard to avoid rice in Korea, and no, asking for brown rice is not an option, either at restaurants or for us on this diet. Very few restaurants will have rice with beans in it or maybe a mixed rice with grains but it’s not a common thing. In fact, personalizing your meal is not very common in Korea; you just order what’s on the menu, which is why a lot of people with food allergies/vegetarians have a tough time getting the meal customized to what they want. Growing up in Canada, we really took for granted to be able to ask for no meat, extra cheese, over-easy eggs, whole wheat bread, or for something to be served on the side. In Korea, though, just us asking for rice to be left out, something which isn’t even cooked INTO the meal, is an event that results in us describing our whole diet in Korean to convince the waiter to not waste their rice on us!

The worst part about not eating rice (and I’m sure some of you living in Korea can attest to this) is that if you try to explain to your co-workers, friends, waiter that you don’t want rice, or you only want to eat a little, it’s very shocking. I’ve been told that white rice is very healthy for me, that I’m not eating a meal without the white rice, that if I want to lose weight I should just eat rice. But don’t be discouraged! It is possible to eat tons of Korean meals without rice! Besides giving up on all types of kimbap 김밥 (*sobs*) we stick to soups and stews that serve rice on the side, rather than in the soup, as well as ordering grilled meat in lettuce wraps, grilled fish, and noodles made with buckwheat rather than white flour (Buckwheat’s a good kind of carb). The local restaurants that we visit frequently now know that we don’t eat rice anymore, so we don’t deal with any difficulty there. Otherwise, we do a lot of home cooking and pack snacks to keep us from snapping in the middle of Seoul and eating everything at a ddeokbokki stand.

So what do we eat now? Here is a comparison.

Normal Korean Meal Day for us Before:

1. Breakfast on the run: Tuna salad stuffed rice ball 참치주먹밥 (chamchee jumokbap)

2. Lunch: a bowl of white rice + a soup/stew/fish + kimchi + Korean side dish (usually veggies/seaweed salad)

3. Snacks: fruit, rice cakes 떡(ddeok), steamed sweet potato, stir fried rice cake 떡볶이 (ddeokbokki) or a bowl of ramen

4. Dinner: a bowl of white rice + stew/fish/meat/soup

Coffee: latte or cappuccino

Normal Korean Meal Day for us Now:

1. Breakfast: huge micro green salad with grilled chicken breast, cheese, unsalted cashews/pumpkin seeds, tomatoes, peppers, and low-carb salad dressing

2. Lunch: grilled fish, stew with no rice,

3. Snacks: nuts, berries, hard boiled eggs (easily found at local convenience stores)

4. Dinner: grilled meat, homemade eggplant lasagna (no noodles, just eggplant stacked with homemade meat sauce and cheese)

Coffee: hand drip or Americano (milk free, because milk has carbs in it)

Another thing we didn’t mention that much of in our video: we stopped eating a lot of crap, like all the candies that we were getting. More than that: we watched what we were drinking. Caramel Lattes and Frappuccinos, Gin and Tonics, Beers, Orange Juices: all have ridiculous amounts of sugar in them, and that was definitely adding to our…rotundity.

So, yeah! There are more details to our lifestyle change but we’re thinking that this blog post will go on for too long. We’re not giving up all carb foods and banning the existence of chocolate and ice cream to another planet, but we’re trying to be more conscious of how much sugar and processed food we’re putting into our bellies, and just by doing that we’re amazed at how we’ve changed. Apart from losing weight:

1) We have a boatload more energy than before (seriously: we wake up REFRESHED while before we woke up exhausted) and we’re practicing a lot more self control when it comes to eating junky things like ramen (*sobs*) and candy.

2) We’re also amazed at how our tastes have changed. After doing this for a few months now, whenever we do try something that we loved before, we’re amazed at how uncomfortably sweet it is. Like, appallingly so. We’ve lost our taste for sweet stuff now!

3) We don’t have crazy cravings for sweets anymore. It used to be very demanding. We’d be working perfectly find on something, and then we’d stop and say: I need something sweet. If we couldn’t find it easily we’d tear apart our apartment trying to find it, and if that didn’t work we’d go out to buy it (yes, we’re cheap and lazy!)

Lastly, Martina has gone into crazy baking lady mode. Did you know you can make bread out of cauliflower, egg, and cheese? Well apparently Martina does. She’s a crazy healthy baking lady! O______o

So, that’s it! We’ve still got a bit more to go before we’re fully happy with our looks, but we do feel a lot better about them than before. Those last few pounds, though, are just SO HARD TO GET RID OF! We need to exercise more, that’s for sure, and we plan on doing so. We just have some big projects that we have to settle first (namely, trying to set up our business in Korea, which is quite complicated, as we mentioned last week in our TL;DR on Blogging in Korea)



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