So, it's the 2nd of April and I've crossed the finishing line having lost 3 stones in weight in 3 months with my DIY alcohol, dairy, red meat, caffeine free diet. If I can do it, anyone can. There genuinely is no magic involved, just self discipline and bloody mindedness.
There is some mitigation for weight lost in that time. First, I was pretty lardy to begin with so shedding the early pounds was a breeze. It gets progressively difficult. Second, I smoke which as an appetite suppressant gives me a stick to lean on. I leaned on that stick a lot. Kicking the fags will be more difficult when I eventually decide to face up to that demon again. A New York psychotherapist I once met, (socially), who specialised in dependancies, told me that nicotine was more addictive on a try-once basis than is crack cocaine. I'm not going to explore that option, nor am I making excuses for smoking. I just readily admit that it is unquestionably easier if one smokes. Third, I find the socially light early months of the year easier to endure and its less onerous keeping a low profile. The exception is anything associated with rugby but I cracked that so all things are possible. We all have our own little mountains to climb.
For anyone who may be contemplating a weight reduction plan, here then is a list of useful points to note:
- If you want to lose weight, eat less. It is that simple. We've all become accustomed to larger portions and regular meals of growing minimum size in our lifetimes. You have to recalibrate your body and its expectations of what is coming. Begin with a day of fasting to kick start that retuning. If you can't deal with the concept of less food then give up now, tick the 'loser,' box, get fat and die ugly.
- Drink water and herbal tea. Bin all other drinks; every one of them adds to the problem. If you go spartan your body will adjust. Trying to get through this with, 'just one wee red wine as a reward,' is a route to failure and high blood pressure
- Routine is good. Some people use diet plans, commercial or otherwise, because the routine gives them discipline. Personally, I think the whole weight loss industry is a racket and I don't listen to any of them but I accept that they work for some people. On the other hand, the industrialised food industry, which exists to fatten you up like a foie gras goose, is a whole lot more manipulative and powerful. Listen to your body, it tells you all you need to know.
- Don't keep your aim a secret. I've told the world because support and encouragement helps, it really does. When a friend says, 'you're looking better, you've lost weight,' it's worth its weight in gold and at least another week of kale, beetroot, pineapple, spinach and the rest of it.
- Buy a decent set of digital bathroom scales. I don't want to sound too obsessive about this but if you find yourself stuck on the same weight for a week it begins to matter very much whether you are closer to a positive big figure change rather than unchanged as it may appear on basic scales.
- Buy a juicer. It will cost around £100 but it is a very useful bit of kit. The downside is they consume industrial quantities of fridge contents but they pack a world of nutrition into a simple drink. I start the day with one and it keeps me going through to lunch with maybe a mid morning apple to see me through.
- You may wish to take some vitamin supplements. I do on a just in case basis but I'm not sure they do much other than reassure me I won't go blind because I'm not taking enough iron on board or such like. My favourites incidentally are turmeric and cinnamon to which I attribute the glowing 3.67 cholesterol reading when last checked. It doesn't matter if they didn't help, at 3.67 I have bragging rights.
- Bin bread and with it everything that you either spread on it or slap in between it. Half of the stuff produced these days has added sugar and salt and while people go to great lengths to find excuses for bread just don't go there. I didn't say it was easy.
- Cardio exercise is overrated. You need to do an enormous amount to properly lose weight. An amount which is beyond most mortals, especially if they are overweight. You must obviously do some to keep the metabolism ticking over. I find short high intensity bursts are better than long duration efforts. Lifting weights though is a must to keep the body focused on fat not muscle burning. If you have no access to a weight machine or weights then there are plenty of improvised weights for strength training all around you at home and in the garden; the internet is full of ideas.
- Get used to the idea that there are no cheap options here. Eating healthily is expensive. Fresh fruit and veg becomes expensive because the amount of it that you eat ramps up. Fish? Don't get me started. What was a staple food when most of us were young now really makes a noticeable difference to the grocery bill. There are relatively cheap options though. My regular Wednesday smoked mackerel and 3 Bean salad lunch has become a midweek highlight. On balance, with the saving on wine and other activities everything evens out and there is a suppressed pleasure in being forced to buy new clothes or pressing suits that haven't seen daylight for ten years back into service.
So, why bother?. Everyone has their own trigger point, a moment of realisation when resolve strengthens, a point when they say 'enough is enough.' I had a few, all within a few days. First, I saw some wandering wilderbeast in the supermarket hovering around the iced buns on discount. When I found myself being drawn toward the fresh baked bread smell that had attracted them I thought, oh my God, I'm turning into one of them. Second, an old friend quietly said to me, 'you need to shed some beef, just do it.' Third, I tried on the morning coat I had made for my wedding. I could barely get it across my shoulders never mind fasten at the front. My aim since then has been to fit into that morning coat by the time we get to the anniversary date in a fortnight. This is one year when I won't forget my anniversary. While I can fit into it now, I really need to shed a few more pounds to be comfortable. Another two weeks then and I'll be as near as damn it back to my 1991 weight. Finally, I just wanted to prove to myself that I could. I have.
Now... how do I keep it off..........?