Diets – I’ve tried a few.
Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all, when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out...
... well, except I never did since thankfully, through all my weight battles, I never suffered from that particular disorder.
I have to make it clear that I have never been obese or even seriously overweight – the most I’ve managed to balloon to was about 70 kilos – that’s 11 stone to old-fashioned folk and my daughter. On the other hand I have never been THIN, SKINNY, SLIM, SLENDER, WILLOWY, LISSOM, SVELTE; none of those wonderful adjectives ever referred to me. So I’m your average Jane: always trying to shed pounds, never quite managing to get there.
And yes, I’ve tried a few diets – probably most of the mainstream ones, plus a couple of obscure ones. The one where you ate nothing but boiled eggs and fried celery all day with a large glass of red wine in the evening was fun – the cheapest date I’d ever been whilst on it. Atkins, South Beach, no sugar were all effective until I accidentally had a cup of sweet coffee and got higher than a kite. Low GI was so complicated I almost quit eating altogether and nearly passed out on the bus. 5 2 diet played havoc with my metabolism as poor body never knew when it was getting enough food. And the dopamine diet (oh, just google it) – well, don’t know about you but I think life’s too short to cut out alcohol, caffeine AND sugar.
I have arrived the hard way at the conclusion that all the funky diets are a load of bull****, which really we all knew already. It’s not what you eat; those selective high-omega or low-GI regimes belong with the ‘avoid these 5 weird foods to lose belly fat’ rubbish. Cutting out or limiting certain foods, elements, nutrients is not going to make a sausage of difference if you still eat too much overall. Exercise sure burns a few slices of toast a week but it alone won’t make the pounds disappear if you stuff yourself silly back home from the gym. Getting rid of some, not particularly healthy, elements of your meal plan, like sugar, will improve your dietary intake but mind you: avocado, pecan nuts and coconut milk are seriously hefty in calories.
There’s no way around it: you have to eat less to lose weight.
Eat fewer calories. I’m afraid the tedious calorie counting, or at least roughly eyeballing what’s on your plate in terms of dietary energy is the only reliable way to lose the excess and keep it off.
Have a piece of cake but it will be a trade-off: skinny chicken for dinner instead of a lamb chop. Going out for drinks may mean a meagre lunch beforehand: you wouldn’t believe how many calories there are in wine. Talking about wine, do your research. Fizz is good, beer catastrophic and I won’t even go the way of cocktails and mixers.
Things that are universally considered good for you, may be evil for YOU on your weight loss programme. Almonds and nuts – a bomb. Bread, even wholemeal; cereal, rice, barley – scary numbers on the package labels. Avocado has been mentioned already and cheese must be rationed by morsels rather than slabs. And yes, dark chocolate may be better for you but it actually is as calorific as Cadbury Dairy Milk.
Weigh yourself – bathroom scales are your friend. Not once a week – if you can, weigh yourself every morning (having had a pee, stripped off the PJs and exhaled). It’s true that long term effects matter, but short term monitoring will motivate you better: oh, no, up today – I’ll definitely skip the post-lunch bag of fruit n nuts. Good for you if you’re a number-obsessive like me; record the weight on an app or band – a downward trend is the best motivator.
The next best thing is to not go it alone but have a diet buddy to egg on, compete with and goad. It’s amazing how well it works, even if you both fib occasionally. Someone you share house with would be the best as you eat together, as long as it’s not your twelve year old who categorically does not need to watch their calorie intake.
Finally, it’s sadly certain that the older you get, the more uphill the struggle will become: it’s no longer enough to be sensible on Mondays and Tuesdays to get rid of the weekend negronis and cream cakes. And your metabolism isn’t what it used to be so it’s hard to find a way of getting enough fibre but not just from bread, cereal and lentils. Get your skates on while it’s still easy going, then set yourself a limit beyond which you’ll pledge your weight will not climb up – and keep to it. Godspeed.