Diets. How does one successfully diet? How do you achieve a healthier you inside and out and keep it that way for longer than six months or, dare I say, a year before having a tune up. I’m not talking about being of normal health and size, worrying about that extra inch around your waist and/or hips. I am talking about being five feet two inches, size 18 with Hashimoto’s Disease, (underactive thyroid).
What I am after is not a panic stricken two-week, rapid detox, trim down to fit into a specific dress for a special occasion. I am talking about a major overhaul that I can take into my forties and beyond with realistic rules and goals that would make a healthier me, more attainable and easier to maintain.
Aside from the Hashimoto’s and my size, I am fairly fit. Not fit enough for my liking, I mean you wont see me do tough mudder anytime soon, but I am going into this with the mentality of, “things could be so much worse”. I can do a 4-kilometre walk in 40-45 minutes without wishing I were dead. I can push 80-90 kilograms on the leg press at the gym after grunting out 38-kilogram dead lifts; and although I am not a runner, I can do interval running; when my partner pushes me.
My pre-diet diet was fairly healthy too, although as I discovered a little topsy-turvy. I didn’t gorge on lollies and chocolates, cakes were an every now and then thing and I never partake in fizzy drinks, whether diet drinks or not. My biggest vices are, and I think will always be, cheese, coffee, French breads and pastries, (e.g.: baguettes, croissants).
So, I wake up one morning and say this is it. I have to figure out how to shift all the extra weight I am carrying and keep it off.
Information about weight loss is everywhere; you can’t miss it. It’s all over the net, in the books and magazines we read, on billboards and advertising spaces at bus stops. “Eat this food, you’ll look like this!” or, “Stop eating this and you’ll lose weight fast”. Gluten bad carb free good; supper foods, smoothies, juicing, chia, acai berries … my brain is knackered just thinking about it.
So I put my blinders on and employed a little bit of logic. What is wrong with my pre-diet diet? What do I need to change? I did some reading and after a couple of days of Google searches I found out a few things that helped me sort out a maintainable eating plan. Not easy you have to understand, al least not at first, but maintainable.
I went back to basics. Why do we need food, aside from pleasure? Fuel right? When we go on a long drive; say a three-hour journey what’s the first thing we do? Get fuel. When we use a car for a small 10-20 minute journey we don’t worry so much about putting the maximum amount of fuel in the tank. So there was my first mistake. I was eating too much food at the end of the day when my body didn’t need it. Meat takes five hours to start to digest, (I read that somewhere), and I was eating the stuff before bed! I was ingesting the largest meal at the time of the day when all I was going to be doing was sitting down before going to bed! I wasn’t using that fuel at all.
I read some articles that outlined the best time in the day to eat certain foods and meal sizes. The articles weren’t carbon copies; they varied from expert to expert which was to be expected, so it was a matter of sifting through to find the similarities. I also took into account my daily activities and when I use the bulk of my energy. See most of the energy I have gets used between 5:30am and 2:30pm, while being a mum, running errands, cleaning, going to the gym or going for that 4km walk/run.
It seems the most common belief is that fruit is best in the morning, but for a long time now I have been having a cheese omelette for breaky. I have switched it up. I have a slow metabolism, (due to the thyroid issue), so I had to figure out the best way to eat my fruity breakfast so that digestion and absorption is easier and it fills me up for 3-4hours. SMOOTHIE!!! That way I get a little extra protein, (the extremely low carb variety of powder). I also use a linseed, sunflower seed, almond meal and wheat germ mix. I vary the fruit from day to day, sometimes with berries and mango, sometimes with banana. Oh, by the way, about an hour before my smoothie, I down a big glass of Metamucil and second glass of clean water with my medication.
Now of all my vices, coffee is the one food I am not willing to swap out. They say, “don’t deny yourself”, so I wont. I have a coffee during breakfast and another for morning tea. With milk and sugar.
Apparently the biggest meal of the day is better at lunch. I’m talking lean meat or fish with a green salad with a little bit of dressing made with olive oil, soy sauce and dukkah. The serving sizes for the meat … the size of my palm not including my fingers. As for the green leaves, I eat as much as I want.
Dinner is the hardest part. It takes a huge amount of restraint, especially since not only am I preparing my food, but food for my family. It’s not just the preparation that is difficult but watching them eat. My family and I had dinner at a friends house over the weekend; a barbeque. I didn’t stray from my diet but I think it was hard for all of us. They had to watch me eat/drink my meagre meal and I had to reign in my jealously over their meals.
I have to finish my food by 6:30pm and it is a very small meal. Two boiled eggs with green leaf juice. Not easy. But I am managing. If I am in the mood, green tea is allowed.
So there we have it. Fruit smoothie for breakfast with a coffee, a coffee for morning tea, a small amount of meat with lots of salad for lunch and two boiled eggs with green juice for dinner.
Lets talk hunger. I wake up very hungry in the morning but the two big glasses of water/Metamucil, help with that and give me a chance to let my medication settle before smoothie o’clock, (about 6:30). That smoothie holds me until lunch, (about 11:30-12 noon). Dinner is between 5 and 6 o’clock and here’s the biggest hurdle … I’m pretty much going to bed hungry every night. I find that I have earlier nights, not because I am tired, but because I don’t want to snack.
Time for exercise. I do a mixture of cardio and resistance training everyday 2 hours after breakfast. Whether I do interval running and walking around one of the many walking paths in my area or head to the gym, I do sweaty, stinky exercise for between 45 minutes and an hour everyday. Like I said, tough mudder I am not, but I am getting stronger.
I am now six weeks into this diet and I knew, getting into this, that it would be a long slow process. I knew that I was not going to wake up feeling great after a week or two or even a month. I was not going to lose the weight fast, but I think that will make all the difference.
I think expecting miracles and getting over excited about the possibility that I may end up a healthy size 12-14, (which would be lovely), would hinder any progress. I think I would give up if it didn’t happen quickly. But I am taking it slow. I am being realistic about how I look and feel and I am paying attention to my own body both size and shape, because I think that plays a big part.
I am naturally curvy, an hourglass. I have the boobs, hips, bum and thighs. I love my curves I just want smaller ones. I don’t want to be thin to the degree that you can see my collarbones, or see my ribs when I lift my arms. I want to look and feel healthy, and for me that means keeping a little wobble. Besides, I think a little wobble looks great on me.
My current standings after six weeks are… I have lost some size around my face, stomach and thighs. My lower back has toned up a bit and I had to go buy some new bra’s as I have gone from a size 18 to16, (I am not telling you the cup size). This diet seems to be working. A couple of people have said they can see a difference and now I can too. Remember it is not a big difference, but it’s a good start.
Stay tuned for part 2 in another 6 weeks.