I’ve spent just about my whole life hating my body and trying to lose weight. I have almost always been on one diet or another – general healthy eating; cutting out the ‘bad’ things for months on end; SlimFast; Adios diet pills; Rosemary Conley; nothing but salad for dinner… I’ve never kept the weight off in the long term and throughout my adult life have varied between 56-86kg. I could never keep to any of those ways of eating in the long term, and being a self confessed lazy cow I’ve always avoided exercise. I could make the excuse of how difficult I found P.E. at school due to having asthma and not being diagnosed with it or given an inhaler until I was in my teens and that it put me off, but we all make too many excuses for why we got fat. I’m just lazy and I love my food.
I slimmed down to a size 8 when I found myself in a particularly stressful time with an overly controlling man but when the situation changed for the better I soon started to re-gain the weight I had worked so hard to lose. In hindsight having regained some of it was probably a good thing – my relationship with food was bordering on an anorexic way of eating and obsessing over my ‘10,000 or more steps a day’ plus exercise regime. Meeting my now-husband led me to relax and indulge in food again. I maintained at around 65kg for a few years but it slowly started to creep up. We got married almost 2 years ago and at that point I had ‘only’ hit around the 72kg mark – another stone. Christmas seemed to be the main problem, I’d overindulge and get used to it, eating too much for a couple of months after.
After the wedding I was so fed up of trying to control my weight (I lived on salads for about 4 months before the wedding to make sure I’d still fit in my dress!) that I decided not to care. I decided I was fat and that was just how I’d always be, so I may as well accept & enjoy it.
I enjoyed it a little too much, giving up on weighing – well the batteries in the scales had died anyway – and just buying bigger and bigger clothes. Last summer I had to buy something nice to wear for a meal out and it was while in the changing rooms I took a good look at myself and how I was bulging out of size 16 clothes. The thought of having to try on an 18 for the first time in my life was a major shock and I decided to get some batteries for the scales ASAP.
The scales were not kind to me. I took a guess at ‘just under 80kg’ and was devastated to step on and find myself almost a stone off the mark, 86kg. The most I’ve ever weighed. No wonder I couldn’t undress happily in front of hubby anymore and no wonder it felt like my backside was following me around.
Enough was enough, I decided to lose the weight.
So, I started doing everything I’d normally do to lose weight. Daily exercise, albeit on the old exercise bike for 30-40 minutes and a much healthier diet, less treats & snacks. Move more, eat less, eat healthier. That had always worked in my 20’s when I set my mind to it.
Over a couple of months doing this my weight varied between about 84-86kg. I’d lose a bit and then regain, nothing seemed to keep it off and whether I tried more exercise or less food it simply wouldn’t budge. I got quite low with this and due to a few other issues I’d been having I went to see the doc. I wondered if I might have a thyroid condition (several family members do) or perhaps be pre-diabetic. There had to be something which could explain the lack of weight loss. The doc did a dozen or more blood tests, and although no major conditions turned up (to my relief!) it did look as though I’d had a virus for some time and the doc thought this could explain why I couldn’t seem to shift the weight with what I had been doing. I decided just to let my body recover and to try the diet & exercise again once I was 100%.
When I was back to normal I started the regime again, with little effect. It was around this time I spotted an article on the BBC News website about the forthcoming Horizon documentary. It sounded interesting and I made a note to watch it. I’m so glad I did, it has changed my life.
After watching the documentary I decided to try the 5:2 diet myself, despite the lack of human tests – I had nothing to lose, but weight! I opted for Mondays & Thursdays to allow me to fill up on a good roast on the Sunday evening and so my weekends would be free for social occasions. I started the first Thursday after the documentary and was really excited about it. I’m a very stubborn (or determined, depending on how you look at it :)) girl and that has made it easier for me to stick to going without food when I’ve decided to do so. My first fast day wasn’t very well planned, I had decided I’d be best having a larger lunch and a cuppa soup for dinner. Well the lunch was fine and filled me up, but by dinnertime was ravenous and the old cuppa soup I’d found in the cupboard did not taste right at all! I didn’t have much else in the house which would fit my remaining 100ish calories, so I opted for what was probably the tiniest bowl of cereal ever – perhaps a tablespoon? with a tinier splash of milk. Each flake was a banquet, eaten singly on the smallest spoon I could find. I wasn’t full, but I wasn’t starving and stuck with it the rest of the day. Being in the habit of weighing every day I hopped on the scales the next morning as was delighted to see I had lost some weight. I forget how much, I didn’t keep track of it early on. I couldn’t bear to write down the numbers which had been so shocking to me.
My subsequent fasts were much better planned, with lunch & dinners of around 250 cals each. Skipping breakfast was easy and I filled up on water most of the day. It seemed so easy, and although I kept restricting my calories on my feed days in the first couple of months, I soon learned that I didn’t need to. I couldn’t manage as much anyway and tended towards healthier choices, but was able to have treats and not only not gain weight but more importantly not feel guilty about it!
Within 3 weeks I had lost around half a stone and my family were starting to notice. After 6 weeks a stone was gone and I started to notice the loss was slowing down a bit. With hindsight it may just have been ‘that time of the month’ which seems to play with my weight a little. Nonetheless I decided a change was necessary and I opted to switch to having just 1 meal a day on my fasts, in the evening. I’d save enough calories for a low cal hot choc or slim-a-soup at lunchtime. This meant I’d be going around 24 hours with 0-40 cals, and it did indeed seem to give the loss a bit of a kick start again. By Christmas I’d made it back to my wedding weight and decided to keep fasting over the festive period, being that Christmas eating was usually my downfall.
Admittedly my Christmas fasts weren’t so strict – I didn’t stop eating after dinner the night before and I probably allowed myself more like 600-650 cals, including some chocolates during the day. In the first week I lost 1lb – I was amazed! In the second week, which involved far more indulgence in all the edible presents received, I regained most of that pound. But, overall I came out quarter of a pound less over Christmas than before. I didn’t feel like I’d missed out at all, I’d eaten like a pig most of the time and my fasting days actually seemed a welcome break from all the chocolate and fatty things.
It took me a few weeks to get back on track with my feed day eating – so many cakes & treats left from Christmas I was probably nearing 2500-3000 cals a day on feed days. The weight loss was slower but steady, around half a pound to a pound a week. I’ve now cut out that hot choc/soup from my fast days and have a 400-500 cal dinner instead. Usually my dinners are fairly normal looking in size content – chilli, bolognaise, lasagne, ratatouille, a light roast with loads of vegetables, chunky veg soup. I don’t really feel like it’s diet food, and I’ve not cut out carbs at all.
I still eat plenty of treats on my feed days, and we must average a takeaway or dinner out a few times a month, not to mention when we have friends over and I cook up a feast! The weight continues to come off at around a pound a week, some weeks I might stay the same and the next I might lose a little extra. I don’t mind it being slower now. I fell out of my size 16s months ago and my 14s are falling down now. I need to go jeans shopping soon to try some 12s! I’m smaller than I’ve been in years and yet eating all my favourite things. I feel so much better in myself – no restrictions, no guilt, continued loss. My flabby bits that used to catch on each other when I bent over have gone, my eczema is improved and my asthma is better in general. I sleep better than I have in years, and my skin looks great. Weight is coming off from places I want it to come off from – I’m not losing my boobs as much as usual!
I feel happy and I feel like I could keep living this way forever. Never has a way of eating been so easy or so beneficial. Roll on next fast day – and next weigh day!