Like most women, my body shape at 31-and-a-bit was not what it was at 18, with extra pounds where not wanted and clothes that I couldn’t wear, but refused to throw out.
Portion sizes had got out of control, and foods that we tell the children are ‘sometimes’ foods end up being eaten every day – I suppose after not being ‘allowed’ them as a child, and then having periods that I couldn’t afford them, I had rebelled and started buying (and eating) them, just because I could.
Small bars of chocolate became bigger bars, as they were usually on promotion and better value, but did they last more than one sitting? Nope! In fact we even went from sharing a large bar, to eating one each. Add to that, coffee shop lattes (with syrup) and the more than occasional trip out for lunch and before I knew it, my weight had crept back up to the level it was when I was expecting Andrew.
Being tall, the extra stone and a half I’d ended up carrying was not as obvious as in someone shorter, and I was still within my ‘ideal’ BMI according to the charts – but I just didn’t feel right.
I gained weight after having both of my children, as most women do, and over the years I’d tried pretty much every weight-loss scheme or diet available to try to get back to where I wanted to be – each time losing some, gaining some and stabilising – just at a level higher than I was comfortable with.
I finally found something that worked!
Well actually they ALL work, the problem is that either you end up, hungry, bored or end up consuming some sort of soup / shake etc. which is not sustainable long term. This means you give up and end up eating what you were originally. Weight goes down to start with, and you feel great, but then when you stop, it goes up a bit (or a lot) and you feel deflated.
Worse than that, often people find having been through a period of deprivation or restriction of a particular food group, they tend to rebound and pig out on a whole load of stuff that just ends up making them feel sick.
The time that I did Atkins, I lasted 11 days before caving and going to the co-op for Pringles, choux buns and fizzy sweets. A massive carb overload, just because I’d missed it so much. The blurb for the diet is enticing – each as much steak, prawns, eggs, cream and butter as you like – but Bolognese without the spaghetti or garlic bread, and no chips or salad with your steak? You simply reduce your portion size as you lose your appetite.
Slim-fast was no better – and worked out quite expensive. It wasn’t too bad when I was busy, but on a weekend – arrgh! It’s not fun trying to enjoy a shake, whilst the rest of the family ate proper food – and being surrounded by the yummy cooking smells just made me feel hungry.
Going back to what your Grandma said “everything in moderation” or “a little of what you fancy”
What does this really mean?
Eat something from all of the main food groups everyday:
- Protein – meat/ fish/vegetarian alternative (beans/legumes/pulses)
- Carbohydrates – pasta, rice, quinoa, couscous
- Fruit & Veg
Try to go for unprocessed options when possible as the nutrient value tends to be higher and the calorie content lower.
But I thought Grandma said to eat what I want? Where’s all the nice stuff?
The key thing here is A LITTLE of what you fancy… so by all means have chocolate, wine, cheese, crisps, pasties or whatever takes your fancy… but the key thing is a LITTLE.
And that’s where the problem lies.
Portion sizes have increased, and thanks to the parenting skills of the 1970s and 80s we have almost a compulsive desire to eat everything on our plate at every meal. This is the real problem – portion control!
Realistically, you need a way to keep track of this stuff so that you can make informed choices rather that just eating junk because it is there. For many people an organised plan, like Weight Watchers or Slimming World gives them the structure to limit the stuff they know that they should, whilst filling themselves up on healthy, nutritious food.
So what did I do?
The first stage for me was a detox from processed food, a quick sharp shock that would reward me with energy gained and inches/ weight lost. I used a plan that I have tweaked and made my own over the years and is available here in pdf format as an ebook. I felt so much less bloated that it gave me the desire to get back into shape and as you’ll see from the book, move to a more balanced and sustainable way of eating.
So in January this year we joined a Slimming World group, close to where we live. We have loads of friends who have successfully lost weight (and kept it off) with SW and it got to the stage that we thought – if they can do it, so can we!
Our consultant, Helen, runs groups at St Bartholomew’s church hall on Mondays and Tuesdays and is brilliant. A wonderful balance of knowledge, tips and support with just enough craziness and humour to get you through each week. It took Phil 13 weeks to lose 2 and a half stone and reach his target weight, for him to then choose to lose another stone. My loss was a little slower – 16 weeks to lose 1 stone and 6 pounds – but at an average of just over a pound a week – having never felt hungry. I’m still being able to eat the foods I love and drink alcohol when I fancy it, and have not had to cut out any food groups – I’ve never felt better.
I still eat crisps, bread and chocolate regularly and in no way have given up alcohol, but I’m now back to making more sensible choices.
The bulk of my diet is unrefined, proper food – Meat, eggs, fruit, vegetables with sensible portions of wholegrain bread/ cereals and dairy products. Nothing missed out, means no cravings.
The biggest and easiest change I made was to stop drinking Café lattes, and go back to coffee (or tea) with milk. When you look at the nutritional value, and realise you’re drinking a glass of (hot) milk with an espresso shot in, you understand why hidden calories (or points/syns) in drinks are so easy to miss. If I offered you a ‘coffee milkshake’ you’d think it too filling or high in calories for a between meals drink – why is a café latte any different?
10 years ago, no-one had artisan coffees, and we all survived.
Is it time to make a change in your diet?