Alas, this isn’t the first time I’ve talked about diets, or food for that matter (I’m sorry to say). I do hate to be a diet bore, but, well…I’m on a diet healthy eating plan. Again. I’m not one of those lucky souls who can eat whatever they want and remain svelte. I’m small in stature with the tendency to be pear-shaped and have the propensity to run to fat. I have to watch what I eat – watch it like a sodding hawk. I lost quite a bit of weight about four years ago (I was getting married and had incentive) and I was pretty damned smug about it too. The weight loss, not the impending marriage. After losing a stone and a half or so and reaching my goal weight, I thought to myself, ‘I’ve really got this diet-lark sussed. I don’t know what all the fuss is about. You just eat a bit less and do more exercise. I might write a self-help book about it. I’m such an inspiration…’. I recklessly threw out all my larger clothes and took great delight in purchasing new ones. For a few years I lived on my maintenance allowance of calories, religiously exercised three times a week and all was well.
But then I got cocky. I’d been doing this for years so why did I need to laboriously log my calorific intake day after day on ‘My Fitness Pal’? I knew what to eat, I didn’t need to continually add it up on a phone app for the rest of my life! Then the maintenance allowance of calories crept up a little bit, if the family were eating cake, I would eat a bit of cake. The three-a-week workouts dwindled down to two. And oddly enough, those lovely abdominal muscles I’d lovingly cultivated over those glory years mysteriously seemed to disappear under a layer of fat. All of a sudden I was just nudging past the top of my body mass index. What in the bloody hell was going on? There must be some mistake!
Well no, actually there was no mistake. I had simply grown complacent. I had blamed the weight-gain on ever-growing muscle density one too many times (that old China) and just let things slip, if I’m honest. So at around Halloween time this year, after looking particularly unpleasant in my overly-tight costume, I decided enough was enough. Some friends were on a diet, but able to eat a decent amount and were still losing weight. Hello..? The diet promotes consumption of real foods, whether it be unprocessed carbohydrates or fats, but not at the same meal. Because carbs essentially turn into sugar and excess sugar = insulin spike = fat storage = bad. Or something. And this diet also suggests that eating less calories just slows down your metabolism causing your body to require less calories over time. Oh. So having living, skinnyproof standing there before me, I thought this might be the diet for me!
The first phase of the diet is a five-day nightmare. Your meals can consist of unprocessed meat, fish, eggs, veg, live natural yoghurt and one portion of ‘safe’ grains (brown rice or oats). No sugar or anything with added sugar. No processed food. No milk. No alcohol. No coffee (!!). No fruit, because fruit is classed as a carb – who knew? I could be found wandering around the house muttering, ‘what kind of ****ing diet doesn’t allow fruit?’ But I made it through those five days (apart from cheating on the coffee-front, screw that) and lost a pound or two. Then I moved onto what was supposed to be the more relaxed phase two. In this phase, good carbs are allowed but never in the same meal as fats (meat, fish, diary, eggs etc). Or to put it another way, never with anything which once had or derived from something with a face. Or something. The trouble was, being the cheapskate I am, I refused to buy the official book and just got my information from snippets found on the internet. So I blithely went along, at times, eating chicken curry with lentils (lentils = carb, chicken = fat. WRONG!!!) and chilli con carne with brown rice (rice = carb, mince = fat. WRONG!!!). Don’t mistake me, for the majority of the time I think I did what I was supposed to do, but a few times I made mistakes. And those mistakes seemed to make all the difference.
I hasten to add, I didn’t lose any weight overall – I actually gained. I never made it to phase three which is the lifelong bit. Of course it was my own fault. If I’d followed the diet religiously, I suppose my body chemistry would have done its magic and started shedding the pounds like my friends. And possibly some of the rules I have given above aren’t quite accurate, like I say – I didn’t buy the book. But it was just a diet I couldn’t relate to. The final nail in the coffin came when my family and I went out for a meal and we had to go to three different restaurants before I could find somewhere that gave me the options of not mixing fats and carbs (not without giving away the bulk of my meal to the greedy scavengers better know as my husband and children). For me, this just wasn’t sustainable – not forever.
I’m a person who thinks in very black and white terms, so a week ago I reluctantly decided to go back to the tried and trusted old-faithful. 1,200 calories a day. Exercise three times a week. And at last the weight is coming off – pretty quickly. And my abs are coming back! Okay, sometimes I’m a bit hungry but I’m doing something that my simple little brain can understand. Eating less calories than my body can expend. Some research says you can’t accurately count calories but I can’t argue with the results. I actually think I’ll be back at my ideal weight by Christmas. I’m lucky I didn’t let things slide so badly that I had tonnes to lose.
Yes, I guess some may say this too will be hard to sustain but this is the only diet that ever worked for me. Different strokes for different folks. I’ve just got to retrain my brain about portion size. I’ve adopted a couple of the elements from the former diet though, I now eat better carbs; brown rice, brown pasta, porridge oats, pulses and sweet potatoes instead of potato. But I certainly eat them with meat! Damn straight! I haven’t had bread in a month but when I next do, it will be whole wheat. I try to cut the processed products down to a minimum. I don’t eat sugar that can be avoided. Which means no cake or biscuits *sob*. So the diet healthy eating debacle will probably go on and on, around and around, causing me endless anxiety for the rest of my life. But right now, I’m on the right track – or I would be if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s my birthday in a couple of weeks, and I’m having a ****ing piece of chocolate cake no matter what. You just try stopping me. And I don’t even want to discuss Christmas…