Family Money: Are You Overweight?
If you read that a portfolio manager is "overweight in Europe", you may well think this means hes been eating too many Christmas puddings over the holiday and needs to diet.
Although that may well be true in some cases (myself included), when referring to an investment portfolio, the term "weighting" simply refers to what proportion of the portfolio would be placed in any one market sector, as determined by its relative size and importance in global terms.
If an investor or portfolio manager believes a particular market sector will outperform other sectors, he increases the relative proportion of his portfolio invested in that market. He goes "overweight", in other words.
So being "overweight in Europe" simply means that the portfolio manager has taken on a larger proportion of European investments than would be regarded as standard.A balancing act
Imagine you were investing a lump-sum of capital and wanted to construct a "balanced" portfolio. What weighting would you give to each asset class? That is to say, what proportion of your money would you keep in cash, in currencies, in bonds, in equities, in commodities futures & options?
As it is generally recognised that over the long term, equities outperform bonds which outperform cash - youd tend to put more of your money into equities than into bonds or cash, all things being equal.
A typical diversified, balanced portfolio would probably comprise about 59% in global equities, 29% in bonds, 9% in cash & currencies, and 3% in commodities, futures & options.
This would be a typical portfolio for someone holding a medium-risk basket of unit trusts or a Managed Fund.
But these proportions will also be affected by your aversion to risk, which differs markedly from one investor to another.
Thus these "standard" apportionments would be adjusted according to your individual risk profile, moving the overall weighting to a more conservative or a more aggressive stance.
Then, what proportion of each of these asset classes would typically be placed in any one market sector?
Here two factors come into play, and theyre very important ones.
First, the relative size of that market and its importance to the worlds economy.
Secondly, and perhaps even more importantly, current and projected market conditions.
In what direction do your favoured markets seem to be headed? In addition, what impact (if any) will movements in one market have on your other investment sectors?
Youd adjust the proportions invested in individual markets to reflect your beliefs of which will do well in the coming period, and conversely those you think will perform poorly.
Thus youd end up "overweight" in some sectors, and "underweight" in others.
Adjusting the balance
For example, in terms of the amount of money invested in stock markets around the world, the United States has the most, holding about 44% of the worlds total capitalisation in equities.
So, if you were to spread your investments based solely on the relative capitalisation of stock markets, 44% of the money youd earmarked for global equities would go to buying US stocks.
Of course, no portfolio manager actually does invest money proportionate to the size of each market. Thats why we read all the time about portfolios being "overweight" in this and "underweight" in that.
But if you believe that the US will outperform other markets in the next few weeks or months, youd go "overweight" in this market, which simply means youd tend to allocate more than 44% of your total equity portfolio to US stocks.
Conversely, being "underweight" in a market means having less than the proportion indicated by its relative capitalisation and importance in global terms.
For example, a portfolio manager who feels the US market is poised for a correction may divest himself completely of any exposure to US equities. He will then be very underweight in that market!
Similarly, if he feels bullish for Europe, his equity portfolio may hold significantly more than the 31% indicated by relative capitalisation value.
If he feels bearish about equities in one or another market - either because theyve risen too high too fast or he believes the economy is weak and will perform poorly - he may reduce his equity holdings and go overweight in bonds (i.e., have more than the standard proportion in his portfolio), or increase his cash element ready to return to the stock markets once the drop has taken place and good fundamental value is seen again.
More and more nowadays, portfolio managers are moving away from the traditional geographical allocation model based on these relative capitalisation figures.
Recognising that the world has become a global marketplace, portfolio managers are tending nowadays to look more at sectoral allocation rather than geographical allocation.
For example, the telecommunications industry may be moving ahead rapidly even though the rest of a markets blue chips are stagnating.
This applies also to the technology sector, healthcare, and even leisure & tourism. These industries have become globally spread, with very considerable amounts of money invested in them over the past two decades.
Another sector which some investors neglect is the worldwide move to privatisation of state-run entities such as railways, airlines, telecommunications, utilities, and so on.
Once returned to the competitive private sector, these enterprises often gain in value out of all proportion to the rest of the market, even rising against the general downtrend in some instances.
The significance of the opportunities that can be lost if one doesnt look for potential growth in specialised sectors is amply demonstrated by past history.
For instance, who back in the early 80s would have guessed that an obscure little computer software firm called Microsoft would prove to be such a hugely successful growth investment?
If you have any comments or queries on this article, or about other topics concerning investment matters, write to Leslie Wright, c/o Family Money, Pattaya Mail, or fax him directly on (038) 232522 or e-mail him at email@example.com. Further details and back articles can be accessed on his firms website on www.westminsterthailand.com.
Leslie Wright is Managing Director of Westminster Portfolio Services (Thailand) Ltd., a firm of independent financial advisors providing advice to expatriate residents of the Eastern Seaboard on personal financial planning and international investments.
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Successfully Yours: David Shrubsole
David Shrubsole, Managing Director and co-owner of the Icon Hotel in Pattaya, has made a perfect foil for his creative flair and love of company with this hotel.
David has traveled far since leaving school in Australia at age fifteen. "My parents werent very keen on my finishing school early but I found study boring. I knew I wanted something artistic and creative that involved talking to people and I had been offered an apprenticeship in hairdressing."
David Shrubsole, creative interior designer.
His mastery and brilliance with interior decorating makes people suppose a background of extensive training in design, theatre or architecture, but no, David is one of those fortunates whose creative genius flows from the fingertips. He gained his inspiration solely from his artistic hairstyling and accompanying theatrical fashion shows. "Then I got excited by collecting and by being able to make something old look good with just a spray of paint or a stencil."
He has been in Thailand for seven years. "I knew I loved Thailand the moment I stepped off the plane in Bangkok. It is peculiar but it felt right to be here, it felt like home."
The best aspect of living here to David is, "The people absolutely without question, their genuine hospitality and openness to help. It really fascinates me to hear why people do the things they do. I am just in awe of the Buddhist religion, it is so deep rooted and there are such strong family ties."
David ventured to Thailand initially to set up the first internationally accredited Hair and Beauty Academy in Bangkok. Then after two and a half years, he was approached by the Westin Banyan Tree Group to develop their spa resort projects. David, however, dismisses the quantum change in direction. "I didnt hesitate. It seemed totally appropriate. My career was always about making people look good on the outside. After a while you realize they never will unless they feel good on the inside. I studied massage and other healing methods. That was what it was all about, helping people to feel healthy and relaxed. It really took off in Phuket and we opened other spa resorts in Bali and the Maldives." Although it was idyllic, every Friday evening saw him on a plane and back to the noise and the traffic and friends in Bangkok.
"No matter how luxurious hotel rooms are, they become very lonely when you are on your own. This is what inspired the Icon concept. I love having people in my home and it is an extension of having the same type of people as guests and inviting them for dinner."
David and his partner William bought the Icon site property in May last year. It was a run down back-packer hotel, which he found through the Pattaya Mail. "We totally rebuilt it. I knew as soon as I saw it what it would look like, even to the colour. I love a challenge and I believe in change. I think Pattaya has lots of potential and is ready for change. If you present something new that is good and working then people will go with this new direction." David plans to open three more Icons, Chiang Mai, Phuket and then Bangkok.
"I want the Thais to know that Farangs do care and are not just there to exploit them. I want to be able to make a difference to people. If someone says thank you for a good day then I am happy. Thats what it is all about, enjoying good company."
David describes himself as "I think I have been lucky. I feel content, I have a wonderful family and a great relationship. I know exactly who I am and how and why I handle things." David Shrubsole certainly has the aura of a happy, creative, complete person.
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Snap Shots: The Exhibition of Worthless Images
Last week Pattaya was visited by a wonderful Swedish photographer, Gerhard Joren. Gerhard has been a pro shooter for 16 years and in many ways is an example for all weekend photographers with any ambition. He has arrived where he is by learning at the feet of the greatest teacher in the world - experience!
After deciding to be a photographer he did a six week night course in Sweden. He then went to America and talked his way into a job with one of New Yorks top professionals. "After two weeks when they found out how much I didnt know, I was sacked! But I soon got another job after I said I had worked for the first chap," says Gerhard with a laugh.
In those early years, Gerhard says he took many dreadful photographs - his "worthless images" as he calls them, but he feels an exhibition of these would be beneficial. It could show to people that you can still take good pictures later on - if you persevere.
He also believes in the old adage that it takes the same amount of time to take a bad picture as a good one - so you may as well apply yourself and do the best you can.
He had some advice for the amateur photographer, and here it is from the professional himself... "Learn exposure from slide film. Look at other peoples pictures and ask yourself How did they do that? Thirdly, move in closer but respect your subject."
Expanding those very important pieces of advice, lets see what he means. Taking exposure, todays print film has a lot of "latitude". In other words, you dont need to get the exposure 100% correct to still get a printable image. However, to get the BEST image possible you should expose correctly. Slide film has no latitude, so when you can shoot slides correctly, you will have the best exposures. By the way, slide film is cheap and quick to process - just ask the lab not to mount them and you can place the strips on a light box and compare all the different exposures side by side. Tip: if you havent got a light box use a fluorescent light fitting! You will also need to have written the exposures down, so you can see what the result is compared to the settings used. OK?
All photographers look at others work. In fact, when Gerhard and I started chatting we both mentioned J-H Lartigue (those of you with long memories will remember we covered Lartigues work a few months ago). Gerhard said that amateurs can learn just by studying photographs and working out how the photographer got that particular image. Was it the time of day? Was it the angle it was shot from? Was it the placement of the people in the shot? Ask and try for yourself.
The last piece of advice you have been given here many times - walk right up and make the subject the "hero". The main item of interest being too small is the most common reason for photo failures.
Gerhard Joren has learned from his own early "worthless images" and is in the process of compiling a book of poignant Black and White photographs. I have seen some of them and they are brilliant examples of true photojournalism. "I am the messenger, not the prophet" is Gerhards description of his work.
He spends ten months on the road and two months recovering. He has no favourite from the 45 or 50 odd countries he has visited in the past 16 years. "I am where my stomach is." It was a pleasure to break bread with you while in Pattaya, Gerhard!
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Modern Medicine: Dematitis
by Dr Iain Corness
Who has not had an attack of dermatitis at some stage? Not too many. Dermatitis (often called "Dermo" or Eczema) presents initially as a red, itching, oozing area of skin that may turn into dry, scaly, crusting regions later.
There are three main groups of this irritating skin problem. The first is caused by factors external to the body and includes Irritant and Allergic Contact Dermatitis. The second is caused by factors from within the body producing a reaction in the skin - Atopic Dermatitis is the most common. The third type occurs as part of a generalised multisystem disease process including AIDS and Pellagra and other diseases you certainly do not want.
Lets look at the first two...
Irritant Dermatitis is caused generally by repeated chemical exposure to a particular area of skin. The "rash" is in the area exposed and there will be a history of repeated contact. An example of this is the Ammoniacal rash seen in infants, otherwise known as "Nappy Rash".
Allergic Contact Dermatitis is relatively common, and can be quite a problem to actually isolate the offending agent. I distinctly remember a chap who had seen all sorts of Dermatologists, whose blistered feet recovered totally after he changed his work boots from rubber soles to leather. This type of Dermatitis generally occurs directly under the area of contact with the allergy producing material. Some people will get a rash under their watch if they are allergic to nickel, for example.
The second type consists of the "internally" produced problems reflecting in the skin. This we call "Atopic" Dermatitis. It tends to be very itchy and occurs in families with a history of Asthma, Eczema and Rhinitis. It does seem to "burn itself out" as you get older, but recurrences are still common even in later life.
The treatment of Dermatitis depends upon the cause. Consequently accurate diagnosis is important. There is an unfortunate tendency to slap a hydrocortisone cream on everything, which may mask the true nature of the irritation.
In general terms, if the problem comes from contact, then isolation from the offending chemical or substance is necessary. Antihistamines may be required, along with local and/or systemic corticosteroids. These very potent agents should not be taken willy-nilly, but should be used under the supervision of a Dermatologist.
The basic message here is, despite the "common" nature of dermatitis, you are well advised to ensure correct diagnosis and correct treatment. This does mean a trip to your doctor, but can be well worth it in the end.
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I dont know what to do. Im 16 and am depressed a lot of the time. I dont know why but I just feel that life is boring.
I dont do anything but go to school, come home, do my homework, watch TV and go to bed.
I do OK in school but I actually have to force myself to do my homework. I feel all right when I get together with my friends. Whenever they come to my house, we have fun and talk about dumb things. My mom and dad often complain about this and tell me I shouldnt act so silly.
I told them that it was better than being depressed. They dont understand at all.
They always say, What do YOU have to be depressed about. You should be grateful for what you have.
Hillary, I am grateful but that doesnt make me feel any better.
Doesnt anyone understand?
I think I do understand. Feelings are feelings and no matter what others say, we do feel them.
It is doubtful that your parents mean any harm. They are, just like everyone else, looking at things from their point of view. Acting silly with your friends is just a natural part of growing up which helps us cope with day to day life.
We older people often forget what being a teenager is like. Its not necessarily a totally fun period of life.
So, parents often wish they were teenagers again, forgetting the emotional turmoil that 16 year olds often experience.
I would suggest you talk to your school counselor. It is often helpful to talk to an objective and trained individual whose job is to help young people.
Whenever you feel depressed at home, you could try calling the Community Services Help Line (in Bangkok) at (02) 662 0979. They are people who truly care. If they didnt, they wouldnt be there.
In two years youll be 18 and have more say in your own life.
The first two things to do are talk to your school counselor and give the Help Line a call.
Ive always heard that the Thai people were kind. After being here a few months, it seems theyre more callused than a chess players behind.
Its really nasty how they laugh at other people. Yesterday, while walking down the street, I collided with a telephone pole. (I was busy looking at this woman with the most fantastic body and didnt see the pole.)
I bumped my nose really hard and all the people around laughed! This doesnt seem very kind to me.
They even laugh at each other. Our housekeepers father, who is staying with us, accidentally stepped on a piece of charcoal, which had fallen out of the stove. He was only slightly burned, but jumped with the sudden pain. Our maid actually ran into the house and was laughing into her apron.
What goes here? Dont people have any feelings?
Im really disillusioned...
Different cultures deal with situations in different ways. In Thai (and many other Asian) cultures, small mishaps which befall people are usually greeted with laughter. Believe it or not its a way of diffusing tension and relieving any embarrassment the victim might feel. It is not a sign of callousness.
Of course, bumping into that pole served you right (he!he!). You should have been watching where you were going.
Your housekeepers father was not hurt, so laughter was a natural tension reliever.
I assure you when people are badly hurt, Thai people are just as quick to offer help as any other nationality.
I hope your nose feels better soon. (BWAHAHAHAHA!). Oh, sorry.
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Khun Ochas Cookbook: Orange Ginger Sauce
A couple of weeks ago the Dining Out Team visited the Royal Cliff Beach Resort and enthused over the Orange Ginger sauce created by Executive Chef Walter Thenisch. This was served with pan fried Dory fillets and elevated the fish to dizzy heights of culinary delight.
With a little coaxing, Walter was prepared to give the readers of the Pattaya Mail the following recipe for his fabulous sauce. It is not difficult to make and all the ingredients are available locally.
The other little secret gleaned from Walter was that this sauce is able to be used with Chicken Supreme or Veal Escalope as well.The Taste Test
Ingredients (makes 500 mls)
Salt and Pepper
In a pan reduce the orange juice by one third over a medium heat.
Add the sherry, white wine and season to taste.
Turn down to a low heat and add the cream and the lemon, thickening with cornstarch till the consistency is smooth.
Pour on the plate and place the fish, chicken or veal on it, then pour the remainder over the top.
This sauce is sensational. The ginger bites through the sweetness of the orange, while the subtle wine flavour cleanses the palate. It will make your dinner guests rave about your cooking for months afterwards - just dont tell them you read about it here, or that they can also have it at the Royal Cliff Beach Resorts Grill Room!
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The battling baht
The pink baht
When illness strikes
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Animal Crackers: Tie me Kangaroo down, Sport
By Mirin MacCarthy
Kangaroos are real native Australians. Most hop on the ground, though some tree dwellers are found in the north. Contrary to non-Aussie beliefs, they are not found bounding through the CBDs, though you can find them in the odd zoo.
You will, however, find them dead in their dozens roadside. They are a huge hazard jumping in front of vehicles along the country highways at dawn and dusk.
All roos are herbivores, grazing on grasses and shrubs and occasionally on the leaves of trees. This infuriates farmers who hunt and shoot them because they eat the sheep and cattles feed.Whopper Hoppers There are different species of Kangaroos, the Reds the most largest and more powerful with males standing 2 m tall, Great Greys, Walleroos, Wallabies, down to the rabbit sized Paddy Melons. The larger kangaroos bound through the country at speeds of up to 40 kms per hour, using their long powerful hind legs for leaping and hopping and their long thick tails for leverage and balancing. They creep along on all fives when foraging and then bound away in huge leaps of up to 10 meters. Each hind leg has four toes with long razor sharp claws used for kicking and ripping competing male opponents. They all have soft woolly dense fur that is an excellent heat insulator, needed in Australias hot outback. Well, well Kangaroos can go for months without drinking water. When they do need a drink they dig "wells", often over one metre deep. These "kangaroo pits" are a common source of water for other animals. Jumping for Joey A baby kangaroo is called a "joey". Born blind, furless and just over half a gramme in weight, it has to climb up through its mothers fur to find the pouch where it attaches to a teat and wisely hangs on for the next five months. It then becomes more active and gradually spends more time outside the pouch to be finally kicked out between 7 and 10 months of age. Roo Queue A few days after giving birth female kangaroos mate and conceive again as a unique insurance. After only one weeks development the microscopic embryonic baby roo is held in a dormant state that lasts until the previous young leaves the pouch. RooHoo! Q. Why do Mother Roos hate rainy days? A. Because the joeys play inside.
Q. What do you get if you cross a kangaroo with an elephant. A. Giant holes all over Australia.
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Auto Mania: The Happy Wanderer
By Dr. Iain Corness
The forward thinking folk at Thai Rung V.P. supplied a Wanderer last week for evaluation. I must congratulate their management on taking the "brave" move in making a vehicle available for test. The motoring industry in Thailand is well aware by now that Automania speaks its mind and has even been known to call a spade an effing great shovel! We also do not use yards of column inches reprinting guff of questionable quality from other magazines!
Thai Rung Wanderer.
So lets look at the offering from Thai Rung. Walk up to the Wanderer and wonder at the size of it. It aint small! But then it carries a large number of passengers. How about this - two large armchairs in the front, a very wide three seater in the second row and another two seater in the third row. Thats 7 full size expat adults or just short of half a score of the smaller brands of people! The leg room is enormous, even behind the driver with a six footer at the wheel. The furthest rear passengers even get their own air-con outlets as well.
From the point of view of carrying 2 children, this seat is perfect. They dont get a door or wind down windows, wont fall out and are far enough away that you wont hear the whinges or the "I want to go to Maccas" every 500 metres.
The seats are excellent with good lateral support in the front and a fold-down arm rest in the middle bench. Every passenger remarked on the comfort. Well done, Thai Rung.
The other feature most commented on was the lack of noise. Whilst this was a diesel version (2.8 Turbo), the sound proofing was such that you werent cringing at the traffic lights listening to pre-ignition!
Interior shot of the Wanderer.
The test vehicle had an auto box in behind the diesel, and while some may say that it robs the car of some power, I personally found it nippy enough in the Pattaya traffic. It must be remembered that this is a large people mover, not a sports car or an SUV. It bowled along Sukhumvit at 100 kph without a murmur, drove over some of our "outback" roads without a rattle and tooled around Pattaya 2 with ease.
The Wanderer had loads of extras, from the again fashionable running boards, "Roo" bars at the front that would protect you at speeds up to 3 kph (!) and dinky little air deflectors across the nose of the bonnet which do little other than make it difficult to wash. However, these are popular options!
Despite the fripperies, practicality is really the name of the game with this Thai Rung Wanderer. Based on the Isuzu mechanicals that can be serviced anywhere between Botswanaland and Beijing, it can be a truly international form of transport. World servicing possibilities and a good solid sensible multi-person mover.
Thai Rung are already involved in, and currently looking at, the possibilities of further export and even have a "Disassembly Line" in the factory to be able to send CKD (Completely knocked down) and SKD (Semi knocked down) Wanderers overseas.
The vehicle would be great for the Aussie outback or the South African Veldt, and if they can get them in at a competitive pricing structure they have an immediate overseas market winner. Whether they can "hook in" to the Isuzu dealer network overseas would certainly assist them in the cause of export sales. Thai Rungs relationship with the Japanese giant is one that could obviously be mutually beneficial to both partners if handled correctly. The fact that Isuzu make their own people mover based on the same mechanicals is obviously a small problem, but really, the Isuzu (Holden) Rodeo is in another bracket from the Wanderer. I believe they could peacefully co-exist!
Enough of the politics. The model, as tested, sells over here for around 700,000 Baht making it a relatively inexpensive vehicle in Thailand. Thats not much more than many of the top of the line pick-ups, and well below most of the other MPVs.
The Thai Rung Wanderer impressed me, and all the other seven people who traveled in it. If you are in the market for a large transporter, and particularly if your driver is ferrying your kids around, then its worth having a look at one of these. It feels solid, it feels safe, it is comfortable. It should be reliable. Just tell em the Doc sent you!Autotrivia Quiz
There were no correct answers to last weeks quiz, simply because I ran out of room and didnt put one in! (Forgot, actually!) However, this being the New Year and all, I really must thank all those readers, both local and from all over the world, who entered the quizzes during 1998. Some of you have become regulars and I and my Editor (suck, suck) really do appreciate your interest and patronage. As I said when we initially kicked off this segment, it is amazing just how much background knowledge on all things motoring there is out there - someone should put it all together one day. It will sell a million copies (well, Id buy one at least)!
So this week, I would be interested to know what you folk consider to be the WORST vehicle in the world. Lets narrow it down to the last thirty years, so well cut out the Hindustan Ambassador Mk I. Ill put my money on a Trabant as Ive never actually seen one that could move under its own power! So what is it, Automaniacs out there? Fax or email me at the Editorial Office and Ill publish the best answers and offer a FREE beer to the winner. Theres a few contenders out there for sure - the XJ6 has to go close, or how about a Nash Metropolitan or a Reliant Robin? I await your reply with interest (as my friendly Bank manager used to write).
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By David Garred,
Club Manager Dusit Resort Sports Club
Everyone should be well into the first week of getting himself or herself back into shape.
Last week I gave you an overview on how to start getting yourselves active again - this can be seen as Energy Output.
This week I am feeling a compulsion to cover the other side of the coin - the Energy Input.
K. Ple is looking good.
If weight loss, or more precisely fat loss, is what you want, the perfect solution is to get active and follow a low fat eating plan.
Ahhhhh, that is where the problem starts...
What do you actually need to do in order to achieve your aim?
Instead of following the fad diets found in Womens magazines, try keeping the following guidelines in mind.
A sound weight loss eating plan should:
1. Be nutritionally sound, providing all the nutrients you need.
2. Never promise fast weight losses.
3. Offer an eating plan based on real foods.
4. Allow you to eat out.
5. Avoid expensive meal plans, products and supplements.
6. Avoid calorie counting.
7. Not avoid carbohydrate foods, e.g., bread, rice, pasta, cereals and potatoes.
8. Make gradual dietary changes.
9. Provide knowledge.
10. Allow you to eat all foods.
11. Offer recommendations of portion sizes.
12. Recommend physical activity.
13. Take into account your personal eating habits. For better success, any changes you make should be small and gradual.
Fat calories are more fattening than carbohydrate calories. Your body can easily convert the fat you eat in food into body fat, so to lose weight you need to cut down on fats and foods that contain it. Consider the following steps to reduce fat in your diet and make a tick next to it when you have achieved it:
* Use skimmed or semi-skimmed milk in drinks, cooking and on cereals.
* Buy a non-stick frying pan.
* Buy a cheese slicer.
* Cut the visible fat from meat.
* Eat very little pastry, e.g., in quiche, pies, pastries and deserts.
* Learn how to read a food label.
* Substitute low fat yoghurt or fromage frais for cream.
* Remove the skin from chicken or turkey.
* Eat fruit as snacks rather than eating chocolate and biscuits.
* Eat fewer burgers and sausages.
Fact: A realistic weight loss is around 1/2 to 1 Kg per week. Fast weight losses are not fat loss but glycogen and water - both of which are necessary to health and well being.
If you lose weight quickly then you will more than likely return back to the weight at which you started as quickly as it was lost. Also 90% of people put back more fat than they lost in the first place.
Weight loss is quick and simple.
Exercise is not necessary.
Certain exercise can spot reduce.
Carbohydrates (for example, bread, potatoes, rice and pasta) are fattening.
Do set yourself up for success,
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