Day 16 of 100 : Those Were the Days

The days of my youth were vastly different from nowadays, in my naughty forties! What has changed?

My childhood meant big Sunday feasts with roasts and desserts. On other days we used to get occasional treats, and I remember always having far too much fizzy cooldrink, but I was never overweight as a child or teen.

I was always a normal weight and size. We ate no low fat or sugar-free foods, didn’t use artificial sweeteners and wholewheat or brown bread was for ‘poor’ people. A starchy side dish at every meal was common, and Fridays were ‘take-away day’. If I were to go back in time and eat exactly the same way we did back then, would I lose weight? What was so different then?

We were more ACTIVE! School days meant a lot of walking between classrooms, and we used to walk home from school in the afternoons, that’s at least a kilometre of walking every day. I also participated in sport and athletics at school, so that racked up more activity hours. As teens most of our socialising happened poolside, and we swam a lot. We danced, went roller-skating, and ice skating, we were always active. When we were youngsters, in the days before remote controls, we were our parents’ button-pushers / channel surfers!

Even when I started working, before I owned a car, daily life involved lots of walking between bus stops, home and office. Then as a young adult with a baby, there was daily housework, washing and ironing. Vacuuming is a good cardio workout, and hanging washing is fabulous for toning arms!

But gradually we got TV remotes, housekeepers, cars, e-mail to make our office days even more sedentary, gadgets and electronics that elevate our stress levels and keep the cortisol raised to wreak havoc with our waistlines, more TV channels to add more weekly hours spent sitting down watching the rectangle on the wall.

As for rushing to be on time…….. cell phones make it so easy to be slow.

Perhaps it’s not the diet that’s the problem at all. Perhaps it’s my activity levels!


Day 11 to 15 of 100 – A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That!

I am actually on Day 20 – falling behind with the daily posts due to life’s events and interruptions…. So I’ll try to catch up!

Day 11: What is your biggest weakness? That one thing you just cannot say no to?

Mine is ice cream. A diet that forbids indulging in that one thing you cannot say no to is no diet – it’s a torture programme.

This is my drug for PMS too. Ice cream makes evil bitch go away….. It just cannot be achieved with only one or two scoops. Even on those binge days, I try to balance the scales, so to speak, by having lettuce for lunch and lettuce for dinner so my entire day’s calories are made up of ice cream! Okay I lie about the lettuce, but the meals are seriously low calorie affairs and could be as simple as a few handfuls of popcorn. I understand that keeping ice cream in my diet will make it take even longer to lose the weight, same goes for the single glass of wine I have before dinner every night, but these are things I can live with in the long run, excluding them entirely will simply push me toward a binge…… And before you go thinking I’m a raging alcoholic – a wine binge for me would be 2 glasses instead of 1!


Day 12: Low Fat. Low Sugar. Low Salt = Low flavour. No appeal.

Compare ‘diet’ foods to the original foods. Compare then and now.

The variety of low fat, no fat, sugar-free diet foods is staggering, and yet, the world is getting fatter and fatter. I recently read somewhere that sugar-free products containing artificial sweeteners actually intensify cravings for real sugar and carbs. I switched from Coke to Tab a few years ago, and there definitely was not a sudden shift in my weight, despite a 2 litre a day Coke habit! So the next thing I am going to change in my diet, is my daily litre of Tab or Coke Light. I am going to replace that with a much healthier sparkling spring water instead. I am excited and curious to see what changes occur – whether it’s in my weight or general health.

For me, diet foods are not an option. It’s like an inedible variety of sawdust, cardboard and animal hooves. Revolting. It even looks like anaemic crap! We did not grow up on “diet” foods, and when I was a teenager the only low fat products I really knew (but did not consume) are milk and yoghurt!

I would rather have a smaller portion of the original non-diet version of any food, than a huge plate of its bland crappy low-everything cousin.

The cost of diet foods is also astronomical for a chemical concoction that contains far less natural original food and has to go through chemical processes to remove what are essentially natural ingredients in the original product.


Day 13 : Carbs, Low Carbs, No Carbs

Carbs are a part of my life and always will be.

Potatoes and bread were around long before Atkins & Co and long before a worldwide obesity epidemic. Blaming carbs is convenient because cutting it out does result in rapid and substantial weight loss. I have two friends who sing the praises of the high protein high fat club, because while they’re sticking to the regime, the weight drops off quickly and in impressive amounts. It’s when they decide to indulge in that slice of bread, or a roast potato with Sunday lunch, that their bodies rebel and hang onto those precious carbs like it’s a final meal. Without fail, they gain huge amounts of weight as soon as they revert to normal eating patterns again.

I would rather lose no weight at all than do something so drastic, because I might be happy with the weight-loss, but I’ll be miserable with the diet options. It also isn’t sustainable over the long term, so why even try to torture myself in the first place?

BUT, you can also lose weight just by eating smaller portions, less fat and sugar (LESS, not NONE!). Which option is more sustainable as a lifelong diet? Which option will result in more permanent weight-loss?

That said, I believe our choice of carbohydrate is important. The more natural and unaltered the ingredients, the better. Refined carbs are not the best choice, but they’re fine occasionally. What’s more natural than a potato? Straight out of the earth – nothing wrong with that!

There’s no room in my life for this no-carb low-carb nonsense.


Day 14 : How do friends influence our diet choices?

Mmmm my previous dedicated 3 month weight-loss commitment was fuelled by fury.

Well-meaning friends kept reminding me that I needed to lose weight, but what drove me batshit crazy is the fact that one of them is a tall skinny woman who does not know anything about fat, and the other is expanding exponentially each year, trying every diet under the sun, but still getting fatter and fatter! Both of them were pushing for me to adopt a no-carb lifestyle. I saw red.

The fat one did a no-carb programme, complete with weekly injections, and lost a whopping 14 kilos in 6 weeks. Wow. And then she had carbs again. And then she gained 20 kilos…… But she was still telling me how fantastic this diet is and that I needed to go on it!

So I got mad. I got mad enough to tell them that there are simpler, better, healthier ways to lose weight, and I would lose 10 kilos in three months to prove it. I did it. I did not cut out anything, I did pretty much what I’m doing again now, but the most profound thing is that I never regained a single kilo of the weight I lost by just making better choices everyday. I reached that goal, and then simply did not set another…… so I’ve been coasting along for over a year, and now I’m committed again. And instead of seeing this as starting again from scratch, I see it as a continuation of the good work I did last time, because I did not regain any of that weight.

Don’t tell me to go on a diet. Especially if you a) have no fat experience, or, b) can’t keep off the weight you lose on all your bullshit diets. Tell me to get healthy. Much better idea.


Day 15 : ADD Something Healthy!

So many diets tell you to cut things out, but few tell you to ADD things in! So I’m going to give it a try.

I will choose to add something to my daily routine that I will enjoy. Perhaps I will have one cup of green tea everyday. I find this more appealing than perhaps starting every day with a glass of warm water with lemon, and I’m not sure if acid on an empty stomach is the best thing anyway? Am I giving up my daily morning coffee? Hell no. Coffee stays!

A couple of decades ago we were told how horrid coffee is, how bad it is for our health…….. and now? Coffee is apparently good for many things! It was the same story with butter – pure butter / pure evil, and then suddenly butter is made of pure sunshine! So, I’ll keep my coffee thanks, and instead of the chemical Teflon-like margarines I will stick to butter. I will add green tea to each day, to balance the scales a little bit. It works for me.


Day 8 of 100 – I’ll Huff and I’ll Puff!

Exercise. Now there’s a sore topic, ‘scuse the pun!

Like diet potions, gym equipment is a massive market. And like countless diet potions, the equipment is soon forgotten and gathering dust in a corner, usually serving only as a clothes-horse.

I have tried them all. I have never been able to fall in love with any form of exercise, despite being sporty and competitive in my youth.

Cycling hurts my crotch! I’m scared my labia will end up looking like tired pastrami…. Walking is boring….. blablablaaaaaaaaa excuses excuses excuses! I started my haphazard ‘path to health’ at the beginning of June, so I’ve had almost five weeks of trying out a few things, but from the outset, I decided that some form of exercise had to happen consistently, whether I enjoy it or not – the key was in FINDING a way to enjoy it.

So out of the dusty corner came the stationary exercise bike and the treadmill. They were dusted off, and I added a nice collection of varied cardio workout DVD’s. My intention was to exercise for 30 minutes three days a week, and that’s exactly what I did – and more! I am now walking 45 minutes on the treadmill every day from Monday to Friday, at a brisk 4.2km per hour pace, because it happens to be the exercise I enjoy most out of all my options. I got some padded cycling kit as well, and every now and then I’ll alternate the walking days with bike days, and some days it’s a cardio DVD workout.

If I know I am going to indulge in both desserts and some super rich meal as well, I try to start the day with at least 20 minutes of brisk exercise. It makes me feel okay about having a truly over the top indulgent day. And so far, the scales have agreed.

I still can’t say that I love exercise, but, I LOVE the way it makes me feel! I feel fantastic after my daily walk, I feel proud of myself, and I am so much fitter than I was when I started just a few weeks ago. Mentally, I’m so much happier and calmer now, and really believe that exercise is a massive contributor to my mental health. I love feeling good! Even though I’m obese, I can go for a brisk 5km walk and barely break a sweat, yet I remember deftly setting out for a walk on the beach one sweltering hot morning in February while we were on holiday, and I could not manage the 100m walk down the road from our hotel to the beach! I felt like a melting mass, could barely breathe, I was gasping for air, and had zero motivation to walk one more step closer to the beach. We went to the same place for a weekend away last week, and I easily managed a 4km walk with my husband after breakfast on both mornings!

I am starting to ‘get’ what the die-hard workout junkies love so much. I even got a step counter recently, and it’s amazing how being aware of this little gadget clipped to my belt makes me want to park as far away from the shop entrance as possible, walk back and forth in the kitchen getting individual ingredients to clock up a few more steps, get up and walk every time I make or take a call, and get off my chair every hour to walk in place for five minutes,  or just to walk to the kitchen or bathroom or to someone else’s office instead of sending them an email.

It’s the last thing I feel like doing in the mornings, especially now that it’s the middle of winter, but I have made it a part of my day that’s not negotiable, like brushing my teeth. I put my walking clothes out so it’s there staring me in the face when I wake up, and I have a banana and smoothie ready for breakfast before my walk. I put a DVD of whatever crime series tickles my fancy on the day, and once I start walking, I’m instantly motivated. On days when I get bored halfway through my walk, I remind myself of how far I’ve come, how much fitter I am, that the bulging cellulite on my thighs that looked ghastly in my pale grey walking tights has become smoother, and I am starting to see some definition in my thighs – there’s something sexy lurking underneath! So with every walk I imagine that I’m shaving off a tiny tiny layer, and soon that will all add up and reveal the gorgeous me hidden under all that blubber!

It’s easier to maintain commitment because I am challenging myself to 4 months……… but after that……… who would want to throw away all that hard work? The habit will be so well established, it will feel strange and wrong not to carry on. Healthier choices will be the norm….. It’s like the big weight-loss goal…… it’s too much pressure! Don’t start the ‘all or nothing’ plan and aim to lose 30 kilos in 6 months…….. rather make healthier choices and aim to lose 5 kilos in three months. Why not? On the ‘all or nothing’ desperate plan you might still be the exact same weight in three months anyway…….. very likely. Try smaller steps first. The same goes for exercise. It’s a biggy for most people.

Start doing half an hour every second day. Even if it means doing 10 minutes three times throughout the day. Is it more than you’re doing right now? Then it is PROGRESS!

Day 6 of 100 – Planning Ahead

A little bit of planning ahead is half the battle won!

I get up early on a Saturday morning, and plan a dinner menu for Monday to Friday the following week, and make a shopping list. This helps so much, because I don’t need to go shopping during the workweek, and end up getting tempted by everything on the shelves, and it saves oodles of time and stress deciding what’s for dinner every night, rushing around for ingredients and so on.

We have one rule – no planning on weekends! On weekends we eat something we really feel like on the day, and it helps that both my husband and I love cooking and trying out new recipes. Or we go to our favourite restaurants or try out new ones. I also limit my sweet treats to weekends, and it’ nice to think of it as a reward at the end of a week of good choices. This does not mean the weekend is an endless feast of sugar, oh contraire……. It is my opportunity to really savour every mouthful of a lovely piece of cake, tart or sweet

My weekly dinners are not ‘diet’ meals, they’re not low-fat or low-anything, we cut out no food groups and we really enjoy mealtimes. My healthier choices mean I have smaller portions, normal portions, not so little that you end up famished an hour later, and no more than I need to feel satisfied. Truth be told, I could eat even smaller portions still, and be satisfied after the meal. I keep breakfasts and lunches light and simple, and I have fruit everyday. It is working really well for me and I’m happy to be on a plan that doesn’t involve tearing the skin off all chicken!

Planning ahead for the 5 days also saves money as there are no extra sneak purchases during daily visits to the supermarket. I make sure I do my grocery shopping early, after I’ve had my breakfast at home, so I’m not tempted to listen to my screaming stomach to buy everything I can shovel down my throat.

I know this is all common sense, and these points have probably appeared in magazines countless times, but it really helps me stay on track! It also motivates because I feel chuffed that the week’s meals are planned and decided, ingredients are in the fridge and cupboard, and I don’t have to worry about temptation.

Depending on what we rustle up over weekends, I sometimes double the quantities of a meal and freeze one portion for another time. This is obviously much easier to do in winter with stews and curries, but also works with mac ‘n cheese, and I often make big pots of bolognaise sauce to freeze in single serving portions.

You know what’s great about planning Monday to Friday menus ahead? If you keep them you will have weeks and weeks’ worth of ideas for future menu plans, so you won’t even have to think too hard!

Day 5 of 100 – Declutter 101

It starts in the mind. Let go………

If it doesn’t fit or you haven’t worn it in 6 months or you haven’t used it….. get rid of it. Easier said than done. Purging clutter has to be one of the most difficult exercises, because of mental blocks. We are comfortable with the familiar, even if that means a wardrobe bulging with clothes that don’t fit. These clothes fall into two categories – too big, and too small.

We keep the too big stuff ‘just in case’, …. If that little voice convinces you to hang on to clothing that is too big in case you need it again one day, you are not really committed to the plan. You’re not really into this ‘getting healthy and slim’ thing at all……. you’re just humouring yourself for now.

We keep the too small stuff because we’re convinced we’ll fit into it soon. 3 Years later it still hangs in the cupboard, taunting us, reminding us of our long-term failure and lack of willpower. It makes us shout at ourselves for being weak and disgusting, but it will stay right there, for another year or two or twenty. Some of those items even still have price tags on, because when we bought those things, we also firmly believed we would lose the weight and fit into them in a matter of weeks. Riiiiight. We’ll justify not giving it away or getting rid of it because it would be a waste of our hard-earned money – trust me – we’ve eaten more than ten times the value of each item in less time than they’ve been hanging there, and what have we got to show for THAT?! Fat? There’s a good investment eh?!

Lighten your load! Lighten everything in your environment, get into this theme! It’s really hard at first, but once you get into the rhythm it is totally LIBERATING! Best part of it is that it becomes easier, and really exciting as you start losing weight, and get to donate or discard clothes because they are now getting too big and baggy!

Are you hanging onto a pair of jeans that ten years ago made you look amazing? What for? When you gain and then lose weight, your body shape changes, you’re never going to look the same in them again anyway. Get rid of the old, the stale, the too big the too small… let it be symbolic of the weight you want to lose – OUT OUT OUT!

You have to get rid of the old to make way for the new…… so how about decluttering to make way for the new YOU. Keep only what fits now, be present in the present and enjoy it, let go of the angst and the reminders staring you in the face everyday screaming “You will fail and need me again!” or “You have failed for three years already do you have no discipline?!”…. Kick it out!

By keeping what is here and now, and nothing that represents an expectation, you clear the way for your own complete reinvention. A whole new you that will unfold as you go along.

I cannot get to a new me through old things or ideas……

Day 1 of 100 – My Commitment

With 100 days left to reach my goal, I want to take this seriously and be 100% committed. Not committed to some crazy diet, or cutting things out entirely, but committed to making the best choices every day, in the moment.

I lost 12 kilograms in three months more than a year ago, doing the exact same thing. The best part of it is that I have not regained any of that weight so I know I was on the right track, which is why I know I will be able to again achieve this goal this time around.

I am not merely interested in the idea of reaching my goal, I am COMMITTED to reaching my goal!

It won’t be easy all the time, but I will keep the end goal in mind, and the prospect of starting Spring, the next season, a little lighter and a little smaller!

I commit to enjoying every step of this challenge and will remind myself of my goals every single day! My mantra will be “UNDER A HUNDRED!”. I will weigh under 100 kilograms in 100 days. It’s not a long time at all, and at the end of it comes a new me, new wardrobe, new attitude! I will celebrate the small achievements along the way too, because I am totally worth it!

Join me, let’s share our ideas, what works and what doesn’t…..

One bite at a time!