Here is the fourth part in the series of a Q&A with Chris Zaremba, founder of Fitness over Fifty. He is a top fitness professional who first took up fitness when he was obese and under doctor’s orders at age 50. Now, ten years on, now he has lost a third of his bodyweight in fat, put on some muscle too, and has a cabinet full of fitness and fitness modelling trophies. For more on Chris, hop onto his website here: www.FitnessOverFifty.co.uk.
There’s a rise in clean living, veganism and vegetarianism. Some champion these diets as a means of losing weight. What do you think of these diets / lifestyle choices and do you think they can help weight loss?
‘Clean living’ is the first point you mention – if, by that, you mean to encourage people to have more interest in their nutrition and make healthy food choices, that will get my vote any day!
I’m not such a fan of vegetarianism – for one health reason, and one purely selfish reason. On the health side, I’m a big believer that protein is the primary macronutrient in helping to build and maintain a healthy body, and that most people’s diets are deficient in protein (while being over-supplied with other macros). There are indeed vegetarian sources of protein – but the most efficient way of getting the best quality of protein for you is via eggs, certain fish and meat, with the number one preference for me being poultry. Generally speaking, non-animal sources of protein don’t have all the top components ingredients – the essential amino acids – that make a complete protein, and also its harder for the body to get to the protein and break it down for use within the body.
The selfish reason is that I love eating meat! It’s a rare day that I steer clear of chicken, turkey or beef. I’m not an advocate of processed meats – such as ham or bacon – but I’m happy that whole meat forms the basis of the protein part of my diet.
But yes, and coming back to your question, it’s absolutely possible to lose weight on a vegetarian or vegan diet – but anyone following that approach should make sure they are not losing significant amounts of muscle mass as well as losing the fat. And if they are dropping muscle mass, then they should think about finding ways of increasing the protein in their diet, as well as perhaps getting into resistance training in the gym.
You’ve competed in numerous muscle and fitness modelling contests. How does it feel to model in shorts, when there was a time you’d be more comfortable covered up?
It is indeed an unusual activity, and I have found that you need to be pretty self-confident to be willing to be viewed and judged on your appearance when you are wearing nothing at all but trunks or gym shorts.
It’s certainly not for everyone; my wife said she wouldn’t enter the female classes for any sum of money – the threat of showing that much of herself for inspection by 1000 in the audience, plus the judges and sometimes TV cameras too would make her run a mile in under a minute!
I enjoy the contests – and I’ve had some success, mainly in the categories delimited by age. There’s no way that I’d walk away with a trophy if, at age of 60, I was being evaluated against those one-third of my age. I started competing, very nervously at first, at the age of 54. And even after 18 contests since then, I still get a tremendous thrill from the preparation, appearing on stage, the cheer of the crowd and ultimately being awarded a trophy.
I’m very fortunate to have been in the top five of all 18 of those contests – which are the trophy positions. 10% of my friends think it’s great that I do this – the other 90% think I’m nuts and should grow up and behave in a much more mature fashion!
Have you tried or following a clean living, or vegan lifestyle? I’d love to know how you’re getting on. Please email me on [email protected]. Thanks!