I was a skinny child and a skinny teenager. I always ate like a half starved nutter but remained super thin. As a teenager, I hated my lanky tendencies, barrier as it was to any of the half decent boys. I was jealous of girls with legs like rugby players because they had breasts and the boys liked them. I was teased relentlessly for being too tall and thin. Some of the wonderfully inventive tags I got were ‘Anny Rexic’ and ‘Chicken Legs’. Now that I’m in my early thirties, I envy that thin girl who could eat whatever she wanted. I want to go to her and shake her by the shoulders and say, ‘You look great. Enjoy your flat stomach and model like contours; those boys are idiots who don’t know what they’re talking about!’ Up until a month ago, I was a size 16. I was not happy with this, largely down to the fact that the majority of my excess weight seems to be on my stomach, giving my access to delightful comments such as ‘So, when are you due?’! I was encouraged to consider losing weight through the helpful words of family members. A favourite of one family member is the Kate Moss quote: ‘Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels’. This has been repeated to me several times, clearly a useful undertaking, as I’ve really learnt my lesson! I once suggested to this sage advisor that I was considering self-acceptance: believing in myself the way I am, and accepting that I can no longer be that skinny teenager. ‘Self-acceptance?!’ she snorted, ‘that’s the last thing you want to do!’ While the logical part of me knows that self-acceptance is healthy and would maybe even increase my self-confidence; I also know that losing two or three stones would make me feel healthier, more energised and more attractive. A few years ago, I lost a substantial amount of weight, and it changed my appearance so drastically that a teacher colleague didn’t recognise me and thought I was one of the pupils! With this in mind, I decided that I wanted to get back to a size 10/12. So far, I’m down to a size 14 and have lost a stone. That hasn’t been accomplished by starvation, or even going without wine, chocolate or cheese (my three essentials!). Surely, you cry, you couldn’t lose weight without committing to a diet?
Each week, as well as documenting my weight loss, I’ll evaluate one of the many diets out there. The diet industry is worth billions, but we’re collectively getting fatter. I believe this is because diets don’t work and the enemy of weight loss and accelerator of global obesity is additive laden food.
One of the most prevalent diets in the past twenty years has been Atkins. Advocating an elimination of carbohydrates such as bread, potatoes and pasta, and the consumption of protein such as steak, pork, chicken and so on, the diet rose to prominence in the 90s, and has retained popularity ever since. Celebrity devotees have led where we mere mortals follow, and many other ‘different’ diets advocate an emphasis on basing meals on protein, and minimising carbohydrates. I have seen ordinary people who are Atkins followers, and they don’t look good. They look like they have lost lots of weight because they are desperately ill. Not only that, but they don’t smell too hot either.
There have been concerns expressed that the excessive consumption of red meat that so often typifies this diet puts a dangerous strain on a person’s cholesterol levels, leading to potential heart problems. The diet is so restrictive about carbohydrate intake that even some fruits and vegetables are banned. The result of this is that the dieter has absolutely no energy, and feels completely drained regardless of the amount of sleep they’ve had. The dieter with no energy does not go out for a run or cycle, or even a walk, she just lies around, feeling utterly lethargic. I suppose that would be OK if you were a celebrity, as you’d have an entourage to attend to your every need. If however, you live in the real world, having no energy at all might become a real stumbling block!
Next week, I’ll discuss diets based on meal replacements, like shakes.
My No Diet Diet plan is simple, I hope! I’m making lots of small changes in my diet, but my main focus is exercise. I bought myself a good exercise bike, and use it as much as possible. When I started, cycling 10k was absolutely exhausting, and I got off the bike with all the finesse and grace of an arthritic old lady! However, after a few weeks, it got easier; and I started to get a real buzz out of cycling up to 24k at a time. I felt fantastic, and was finding it much easier not to indulge in fatty foods and treats, simply because I felt so good. My family and friends were impressed and asked me for my secrets. I was going around feeling rather smug. But then, my path to good living was dramatically halted. I went to stay with my sister for a week. There wasn’t really any opportunity for me to exercise, and my sister was, as a good hostess, laying on the crisps and dips, lovely dry chilled white wine, and delicious dinners. It would have been rude to say no! When I came back, I gave myself ‘a few days to readjust’. Unfortunately, I’ve now been ‘readjusting’ for a fortnight and have completely abandoned my new healthy regime! Fortunately I have only gained a couple of pounds, so it’s time to start again, and I’m going to share the ups and downs with you. Whatever I tell you about my No Diet Diet, you can be assured that it will be the truth. I’m not a magazine or newspaper with an agenda, I’m just someone determined to prove that healthy weight loss doesn’t have to involve starvation, diet fads, or cutting out anything altogether.
See you next week!