Over twenty years ago, a wise friend told me I would always be one of those people who would quite like to lose 10 pounds of weight and she was right. Ever since I can remember I have wanted to lose just a little weight, but not enough to really do anything about it. The only time I slimmed down was when I ran regularly and trained for a half marathon, but that was a side effect. I never did it to lose weight. Mostly though I just accepted that I wasn’t at the weight I wanted to me and gave it little thought.
Until the beginning of this year, when I found I would cringe every time I caught a glimpse of myself in a window, or saw a photo. Years of babies, pregnancy and many, many sleepless nights had taken their toll, but with my ‘baby’ approaching two, I could no longer blame it on baby weight. When I did brave the scales I found that I was heavier than I had ever been and fast approaching a new stone bracket, when I really should have been in the next bracket down.
It was time to act. I am not a dieter. I loathe anything that tells me zealously to give something up or that the food I eat is evil. I was eating a fairly healthy diet. I mostly cook meals from scratch. We don’t buy biscuits and cakes, as I prefer to bake them at home and we are not big on takeaways or meals out. However, something was clearly not right. Mainly, I was just eating too much. Too much cake, not enough vegetables and fruit. There was no way I would be jumping on the quitting sugar bandwagon, or going Paleo. To me, courgettes are not spaghetti and cauliflower is not rice. They are lovely vegetables that I am more than happy to eat more of, but they are not a replacement for carbohydrates. (I promised myself this would not become a rant about clean eating, so I’ll leave that thought there)
I installed the My Fitness Pal and begun to labouriously enter what I was eating. I have to be honest, it was a complete bore. Having to stop every time you cooked or ate and enter every single thing was tedious, but after two or three weeks, I had my core foods and meals entered and it became less of a chore. It really opened my eyes to what I was ‘spending’ my calories on and what I could eat instead.
I had three strategies. Firstly, to eat less of the stuff that is bad for me. So, mostly less cake and biscuits. I could quite easily demolish three biscuits just while waiting for the kettle to boil. Secondly, was to try to add an extra portion of vegetable to each meal. So, ‘Pasta with Pesto’ became ‘Slightly less pasta, with onions, peppers, mushroom, olives and pesto’. Finally, decided not to deny myself anything, but to simply work with it. If I wanted cake, I would have it, but it would be a small piece and not everyday. If we ate out, I would think a little more about what I ordered. Maybe a smaller pizza, but with a side salad, for instance. I also didn’t let a choice dictate the rest of my day. If I had cake, I wouldn’t then think that I may as well pig out for the remainder of the day. The idea of ‘treat days’ drives me nuts. Perhaps another reason you wouldn’t find me doing the 5:2 diet.
So far, I have lost 17 pounds. Very slowly, but the beauty of that is it has so far been easy to keep the weight off. No more yo-yo-ing. In fact, I feel I have truly changed my eating habits and my whole attitude to food and at the age of 42, it was about time. How much we weigh should not be our primary driver for happiness and it definitely isn’t mine, but being able to look in the mirror and see me again, being able to try on clothes that I haven’t worn for years, or go shopping and not feel miserable about it has been a real tonic.
And it’s not entirely shallow. It’s called a healthy weight for a reason. We work better if we are not overweight and whilst in may not have been stones, I was definitely overweight. I didn’t let my children eat the way I did and so I wasn’t looking after myself as well as I was them. So much of what they learn is from modelling the behaviour we show them and I want them to grow up to love food, but know how to moderate themselves. By continuing to eat what they eat and not adopting a radical and strict diet, I have finally started to model the behaviour I want them to copy.