Easy weight-loss plan
Thinner me - not showing you the fatter version
Over the years my weight had slowly crept up until I was a stone overweight. Not a huge amount maybe, but a trip to my Doctor confirmed that my blood pressure and cholesterol were high. This was the prompt I needed to make me lose weight permanently. With a family history of heart-disease and strokes I had to do something. Plus, I didn't want to get to my 50s and find another stone had slowly crept on.
I knew my weight had been increasing, and had tried every diet under the sun: Atkins Diet, South Beach Diet, The GI diet, GL diet, The cabbage soup diet (very windy) and the Mayo Clinic Diet (remember that one? I remember lots of eggs and grapefruit!), I even tried Herbalife (strangely also very windy. Am I the only one?). I would lose around 7Lbs with each one, then sneak the wieght back on. The problem seemed to be with the word diet.
Weight-Loss. The thinking
The problem with following any diet seems to be that you have to follow someone else's method. You have to eat the food that they want you to eat rather than food that you like. Every diet I've followed promises 'never feel deprived' or 'eat all the foods you enjoy', and yet after a few weeks of following someone else's plan I just can't stick to it - and I do feel deprived, and I'm eating stuff I'm not really keen on! Slowly my 7Lbs settles once more around my hips and belly (often with a little extra). Does this sound familiar?
I figured that losing weight would be great if I could still have that piece-of-cake-packet-of-crisps-glass-of-wine that I'm craving. Well, I devised a plan for myself that allows me to do just that.
I'm now 16Lbs lighter, have the blood pressure of a 20 year old and a healthy cholesterol. What's more, I've kept the weight off for over a year and I don't feel deprived. I feel in-control and really great when I pick those size 12 clothes off the rack in the shop.
I want to share my weight-loss plan with others, so anyone can benefit from it.
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Weight-Loss. The Plan
Most of the diets I've tried tell you that certain foods are bad and must be avoided, whether it's fat or carbs. Often, these are some of the tastiest, satisfying foods, and after a while, avoiding them feels like a real drudge, so you begin to sneak them back in, and before you know it you're piling on the pounds again. Also, the baddies change with lightning frequency - almost each week there is a new food-scare and I realised I was tying myself up in knots thinking about what was good to eat and what I should avoid. Demonising certain foods creates a huge amount of guilt when you eat a "bad" food, which helps fuel the 'I've blown it so I'll just eat junk' syndrome, hence helping to add pounds.
Our grandparents, who we're told were mostly a healthy generation were never bombarded with all this information. They got hungry, they ate, they moved about a bit more than us, they were fine.
Advice from the medical profession has remained consistent and simple - eat more fruit and veg, eat wholegrain carbs, eat a little oily fish and protein, drink plenty of water and get up off your butt and move around! They don't follow health-scares, or tell us that one food is bad and another good. Healthy weight is a balance between calories eaten and calories burned during exercise.
In order to find out where you're own eating has gone awry you need to discover where all those hidden calories are in your own diet. In my Nurse's consulting room patients often tell me that they eat barely anything, yet remain fat. Well I'm sorry, but if you are overweight, you are eating too much of something. I know - I've been there! But you need to work out for yourself where things have gone astray. You need to do a food diary. I did and it worked for me.
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Weight-Loss. The Food Diary
Before I even began to formulate a plan for myself, I kept a food diary for two weeks. Now, I realise two weeks is a long time, especially when you're keen to get started, but it does give you a better picture of where your eating habits are letting you down. Most of us can be good for a week, making the diary look better, but it's not a true picture. You need details of what you're REALLY putting in your mouth. In the end It's your health so you need to chose. Before beginning you need to find a notebook to write your diary in and a simple calorie counter book - there are loads on the bookshelves and on the internet.
I divided my diary up into sections, with days down the side, then columns along the top for different aspects of my diet I wanted to look at. My categories were:
Calories: the obvious one, but I bet you'll be surprised at just how many calroes some foods have.
Alcohol Units: I love wine, but not only does it have alot of calories, It's really easy to drink over the reccommended 14 units a week and I wanted to change this habit.
Excercise: I'm naturally lazy, but even I realised that excercising a bit more meant I could get away with a bit more in my weight-loss plan. Also, excercise makes a really good impact on your blood pressure and in keeping a healthy heart.
Fruit and Veg: I thought I ate plenty, but it was interesting to see how few I actually achieved on some days.
The next problem was how much weight to lose, so I took my Body Mass Index (BMI) as a guide.
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Weight-Loss. Body Mass Index
Again, this is not a new idea. Body Mass Index (BMI) tables have been around since the 1940s and the medical profession still use them as a guide to healthy weight. Your BMI is a simple ratio of your height/weight. A healthy BMI is generally regarded as one between 20 and 25.
A simple calculation will tell you what your BMI is: Divide your weight in kilograms by your height squared.
As most of us lumbering Luddites in the UK (born pre 1971) still work in stones and pounds, to convert pounds (Lbs) into kilograms (Kg) divide Lbs by 2.2. To convert kg into pounds multiply by 2.2. Also, 1stone = 14 Lbs. I know I'm labouring the point, but my kids look at me like I'm from Mars when I talk in stones.
There is plenty of research to tell us that as we age, those of us who have a little more padding fare better than those who are skinny. This doesn't mean that we can stay fat and think 'what the heck,' rather, it means that a good healthy BMI is one in the middle, around 23. And this is exactly what I aimed for and achieved with my weight-loss plan.
So, for me Weight = 63kg (around 9st 10lbs). Height =1.65cm (5' 5")(to square this 1.65 x 1.65=2.72). So my BMI is 63 divided by 2.72 = 23 - spot on.
This calculation tells me what I am now, but your BMI might be 27, or 35, or watever, so you need to find out how much weight you have to lose in relation to your height, to achieve 23. So lets say you want to reduce your BMI from 27 to 23 here's what you do. Multiply your height squared by 23 to find the weight you should slim down to, then take your current weight and subtract the weight you need to be to achieve 23, this will give you the number of KG to lose. It's not as difficult as it sounds! Here's my example:
I was 10 stone 12 lbs or 69kg. BMI= 69kg divided by 2.72 (height squared)= 25 (a bit over 25)
BMI of 23(what I wanted my BMI to be) x 2.72 (height squared) = 63kg
So 69kg - 63kg = 6kg, or 13lbs
As you can see I've reduced my weight by a little more than this, although my BMI is still at the 23 mark, but it gives you as really good guideline to aim for. If you're not keen on maths, you could just look up your BMI on a chart (there are loads on the internet or printed in books), then look up a BMI of 23 for your height, to see what your weight would need to be and hence how much you need to lose.
OK, there's no way round this, you have to do some. Start small, it's better to get out there and do a 15 minute walk daily, than spend the earth, join a gym and go flat out for a month then give up. Hypnodude has a great five minutes a day exercise plan. Check it out.
I made small changes and stuck to them. Half an hour's brisk walk is around a 100 calories, more if you are larger. There's no getting away from it, the bigger your body, the more energy it takes to haul all that extra fat around. I told myself that the minimum I would do daily is a half-hour dog walk, so the minimum I burned was 100 calories. I love gardening, so on some days, I made sure I did some extra gardening, then occasionally I went for a run. Again I started slowly, walk/run, walk/run and built up. Now, I can run 5k when I want to, and this year completed the Tesco Race For Life 5k run in just under 41 minutes. (serious runners out there will be sniggering at my time, but the point is I did it!).
I don't know what exercise you enjoy, you chose. Just get out there and DO SOMETHING! It lowers your blood pressure, protects your heart, reduces risk of strokes, makes your skin look better and of course, burns fat. There are plenty of sites/books which give you lists of which exercise burns most calories if you want to find out how much you're burning.
Are All Calories Created Equal?
Well, yes and no. Weight-loss can be as simple as calories in versus calories burned, but surely it is better to chose calories from healthier foods. Those foods with more vitamins and minerals, more fibre and which fill you up for longer.
This simply goes back to the advice of eating more fruit and veg, wholegrain carbohydrates, lean meat and oily fish.
I quickly realised from completing my daily food diary that I could have an enormous plate of veg with my supper for very few calories, which meant I consumed fewer calories overall, but still felt full. So, for example, I love it when my partner cooks a roast dinner for me on Sundays. I still had a roast, but fewer roast potatoes, cut out the stuffing etc and piled my plate with veg. I still left the table feeling pleasantly stuffed, but with the knowledge that as I'd eaten mainly veg I'd still lose weight. You will also find out what works for you.
Any food which takes some chewing is also going to take more effort to digest and hence it's sugars and nutrients will take longer to reach your bloodstream, keeping you satisfied, compared to, for example chocolate, which lovely though it is, takes no chewing, is very easily digested and hits the bloodstream like a bulldozer.
Again, it has to be your choice, you know your likes and dislikes, and the places where you would be happy to compromise in you diet and where you would not.
My Hub How to Beat Hot Flushes with Soya has some good recipes in.