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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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How We Lost a Lot of Weight in Korea

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  1. Bread out of cauliflower, egg and cheese? Sounds interesting for the next video. :) Btw, both of you do look great and healthier. Congratulations!

    3 years ago
  2. You guys can eat brown rice rather than white rice. It has more nutrients! ^^

    3 years ago
  3.  The cauliflower bread is awesome, the flavour changes based on spice and the cheese you grate into it, but you don’t have to use cheese if he’s allergic. I use it for pizza crust, open face sandwiches, and breakfast!

    3 years ago
  4. I donno where should i ask this question..but i wonder, some idol endorse some school uniform company like skoolooks (beast), is school uniform are like fashion/ trend in korea..?? like raining boots…

    3 years ago
  5. Rice is also a staple food in the Philippines, especially white rice. Brown rice is quite hard to find nowadays and sometimes it’s quite expensive too. I used to eat a lot of processed/junk/fast foods but now I try curb my intake as much as possible. I used to hate vegetables but I’m now very fond of them. Hypertension and diabetes is quite prevalent in our family, and I still want to live long and go on a world tour (that includes visiting South Korea hehe ^^) so I think it’s not yet too late to start eating and living healthy. I definitely understand how difficult it is to give up on some things, but you guys did an awesome job! Hope you can keep it up! :)

    3 years ago
  6. For awhile now i’ve been watching your vids and thinking, “Hey, they look like they’ve lost weight!” Don’t give up and kudos for sticking to it! 

    3 years ago
  7. I just love coconut oil, so many health benefits, and the best facial moisturiser bar none. I eat a teaspoon straight everyday. I’ve been giving up sugar too, and your tastes DO change, exactly like you guyz said. I find eating more *good* fats and protein keeps me fuller and I do crave  sweets less. Not a fan of white rice (prefer brown) so that’s not a problem, and my boyfriend and I discovered low carb gluten-free noodles which actually taste nice! In summer I might try zucchini noodles, but I have to buy the whizz bang gadget to make them first…

    3 years ago
  8. FIGHTING~ We also have a technique to keep away from our most terrible weaknesses. We think of it as poison disguised as food.  Like if I want to eat a whole bunch of gummy candies, I look at the side panel and say, “corn syrup and glucose fructose” A-HAAAA! POISON! And then I bake something healthier but I cut the recipe until it’s only enough for portions for one or two people. Like a coconut blueberry muffins with coconut whipped cream, YUMMY and healthy. :D

    3 years ago
  9. I’m glad you guys are feeling healthy! ^____^ That’s the most important thing. It doesn’t hurt that you look fabulous, too. XD
    I’ve also been losing some weight with a low carb diet. The hardest thing for me is nigiri sushi that I can’t get sashimi style. OTL Other than that, I’ve been able to avoid white rice pretty easily!
    Do you guys eat a lot of fruit, or is it too expensive in Korea?

    3 years ago
  10. I have celiac disease, so I’m gluten-free. I bake a lot with bob’s red mill GF stuff. Do you guys have a hard time finding those sorts of products in Korea?

    3 years ago
  11. It’s an Asian thing to eat rice and carbs…..I don’t know why but we just do. I won’t feel full unless I eat rice. And congratulations for losing so much weight!!!

    p/s: I bet everyone who sent in those junk feel guilty. :P

    3 years ago
  12. I can’t understand how can you cut off milk… It’s so cold~~! :D And healthy for your bones

    3 years ago
    • maybe its good you’re cutting milk then you wont have to carry cartons around with you all day and Matina doesnt try to hide it on the side of the street for Simon to find

      3 years ago
    • I love milk too and it is a known fact that milks help you stay slim!

      3 years ago
    • Poor Martina… T^T

      3 years ago
    •  I’m glad I’m not the only one who loves to drink milk all the time. But the added benefit for me is that, for some unknown reason, my body does not absorb vitamin D like it should so milk helps~ I’m switching to 1% soon by doctor recommendation. ^-^

      3 years ago
  13. u didnt appear overweight at all to me before your diet

    dunno why you guys are trying so hard
    i understand if it is a health issue but appearance wise u guys were fine haha

    3 years ago
  14. noe

    you guys are one of the few people who are eating correctly, having too many cards or sugars will raise your insulin levels, which will cause your body to store fat rather than burn it. Good stuff.

    3 years ago
    • I am a bit jealous of people who can cut sugars out.  I have low blood sugar and usually have to drink juice or something that contains sugar to keep my levels up.  It is odd since everyone else in my family has the opposite problem.  It is making weight loss difficult but not impossible.  Any ideas from any Nasties as to how I can work around this more??

      3 years ago
  15. Gah, you guise, you’re breaking down my argument in favor of carbs! I’ve been on a mission for weight loss for about a year now, and it’s been a slow progress. I’ve been trying low fat, but I’ve been told to cut carbs out of my diet. Me=total and complete carb addiction
    Maybe seeing how amazing you guys look will encourage me to finally take that awful leap into healthy living :P
    But seriously, keep rocking it guys! You’re an inspiration to all of us unhealthy eaters!! :D

    3 years ago
  16. Wow! Simon lost  a lot and Martina too but it is more noticeable on Martina than Simon! 

    3 years ago
    • Why would you say that? They have both worked really hard, I can definitely notice the difference on both of them. Watch how you word things, it might come off as hurtful to Simon. 

      3 years ago
  17. I’m not even from an Asian country and we eat rice every day and it’s not even a side dish ;_; now I know why I’m fat…T^T

    3 years ago
  18. Keep up the good work, both in ur lifestyle (food choices) and videos!

    3 years ago
  19. Congrats! You guys look a lot healthier too. :D

    3 years ago
  20. I think it’s great that you guys are making the changes. I was honestly shocked to hear your weights, I always thought you guys looked fine x_x. But I know what it’s like to want to lose weight in Korea. My first year there, I lost 25 pounds without really trying. It was just cutting back on everything and not eating as much in general. Then again, I have a lot more weight to lose than you guys (I’m 195)… x_x;; But then I went home to the US and gained most of the weight back. HOWEVER! I am going BACK to Korea a in a couple of days so hopefully I will lose the weight again, and then some. Yaaaay! Anyway, go weight loss! FIGHTING!

    3 years ago
  21. Sounds awesome, congratulations on your weightloss guys ^^
    remember that eggs does contain quite a lot of cholesterol.. there is also a lot of “healthy” fat in nuts, so.. you can always eat these things.. but a good advice is to do it moderately ^^ 
    What about Coke? Do you guys drink that or cut that out as well?
    Btw. you guys look FAAAAAABOULUS!!!

    3 years ago
    •  Actually, eggs are quite healthy and the “whole eggs raise your cholesterol” thing is a myth.

      ” people with normal cholesterol
      levels and no family history of cardiovascular disease should not worry
      about eating one to two eggs a day. There’s more overall nutritional
      benefit than harm to be gained from eating “nutrient-dense” eggs — in
      moderation, he said. Egg contains a higher quality protein than protein found in meat, milk or fish.
      Furthermore,
      egg is a significant source of vitamins A and E, and B vitamins B-6,
      B-12 and folate, which are known to lower blood levels of homocysteine,
      an independent risk factor for heart disease.”

      (From: http://www.unisci.com/stories/20014/1029013.htm)

      3 years ago
    • No, no coke, no sodas.  Well, we sometimes use a diet Coke for a mixed drink, but we’re not really soda drinkers.  Just water, mostly :D

      3 years ago
  22. Soon.. eat your kimchi will changes their name!!!! it shall be… EATYOURKIMCHI NOT YOUR RICE! XDDDD

    3 years ago
  23. I eat so much rice a day. Like I can deal with two bowls per meal. Maybe if I stop too I can go from 45 to 40? ^^ /hopeful

    3 years ago
  24. wow i should try this! you guys look much more fit and healthy and i envy you guys coz doing it together is much easier ><

    3 years ago
  25. Oh wow i admire you guys for your determination o_o I grew up eating rice & noodles (i can’t live without rice) but i’m not skinny like the Koreans ㅠ_ㅠ

    3 years ago
  26. citrics are also good fr loosing weight!! apparently, they speed up the metabolism!

    3 years ago
  27. Did Simon have to cut out ranch on this diet as well? I love fatty salad dressing T^T

    3 years ago
  28. You guys really do look wonderful I’m always gobsmacked at how freakin pretty Martina is and the handsome-ness of the Dothraki man warrior :)

    3 years ago
  29. I’m starting University in a few days(i haven’t packed anything yet O_O) and I’ve been wanting to loose weight for ages now, so I think I’ll try to do your no carbs diet too…let’s see if that works haha~

    3 years ago
  30.  You guys inspire me to want to lost a little bit of weight! I would say I’m Martina’s level right now, but there’s just that LITTLE EXTRA, you know what I mean? So I’m going to stop eating the rice! XD LET’S WORK HARD TOGETHER! :)

    3 years ago
  31. I’ve noticed how much weight you’ve lost in recent vids ^^ Congratulations 축하해~
    Basically, rice is important to most Asian countries, it’s like our way of life ^^ How you live without rice is beyond me o____o I will die if I don’t eat rice for a day! Anyways CONGRATULATIONS CONGRATULATIONS *I don’t know what Korean they sing here* 축하합니다~

    3 years ago
  32. Well for me both meal seems delicious !! So I wouldn’t care about a diet with you !

    3 years ago
  33. I just started cutting down on carbs and for me, it’s been the most difficult step to take. I’m from Asia where rice is common (like in Korea) and i LOVE pasta and potatoes (I seriously love potatoes, like fries, mashed, baked, chopped, diced – you name it!). It’s been so hard to cut down but if you guys can cut it out totally then I guess I can too :D

    3 years ago
    •  Prepare yourself for crazy carb cravings, but after two weeks of cutting it out, you suddenly don’t crave. We re-hauled our body to no longer crave those types of sugars! YESSSS!!!

      3 years ago
      • Same thing happened to me! After a while of not eating and drinking sugary junk some stuff is way to sweet for me and I’m the only person I know that hates soda. It feels so good to be healthy!And keep it up guys you look great:)

        3 years ago
      • Simon, I want your shirt. It is epic awesome sauce.

        3 years ago
  34. D

    good job guys!! Keep on with the epic dance times

    3 years ago
  35. I’m quite fine living fat and uncomfortable. If I only live to be 25, at least I’ll die eating whatever the hell I want.

    3 years ago
    • We were at that point for a while.  When we were gaining weight, we just thought that we’d get snugglier as a result.  But we didn’t feel good, you know?  Not just aesthetically, but we didn’t feel healthy.  We FEEL a lot better now.  More energy, better rested, less bloated.  I think we’ve even been getting sick less.  Sure, we don’t eat whatever the hell we want anymore, but we kinda don’t want the things that we wanted before.  They taste different now!

      3 years ago
      • its not just ‘feeling’. In fact you ARE healthier, since fat for example sticks on our veins after a time so they get tighter and less blood floats to the heart and so on and so on. But to be honest i used to think same.

        3 years ago
  36. I’ve cut out most carbs from my diet too and it really works! Lost about 4-5kg. Of course I do cheat once in awhile, eating french fries, pasta, noodles, etc, but generally in smaller portions than previously. 
    It’s easier to eat healthier now cos it’s become a habit already.

    3 years ago
  37. Here in the Philippines, rice is also some sort of required food. Hahaha. I guess I’ll try that out. I gained 3 kilos since last year and I don’t wanna gain anymore XD Thanks you guys, and you do look great!! :)

    3 years ago
  38. so, no white rice? I think I’m going to do that now.. gotta lose some fat.. XD thank you guys!

    3 years ago
  39. Congrats on your weight loss.  My wife’s been doing the same thing more or less (though she does eat a little rice in the morning, but not in the evening).

    So how long ago did you start this diet/lifestyle change?  Just curious how long it took to take effect.

    3 years ago
  40. you guys look great!! well done ^^

    3 years ago
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