This doesn’t have a lot to do with sewing, but I really should write a post about it, just in case it helps somebody else.
After a couple of deaths in the family, not untimely ones but still emotionally difficult, and a lot of subsequent comfort eating, by the end of 2015 my weight had reached epic proportions. While I have never been skinny, most of my life I have been comfortably in the normal weight range. But now I was not only well into overweight range, but getting towards the border with obese. Yikes!
I felt quite helpless, not being able to stop myself from gaining weight and not feeling able to stick to a low calorie diet for the months on end that would be required to lose as much weight as I needed to. Finally my brother gave me a stern talking to and suggested I try the 16:8 diet. I am a big fan of Michael Mosley and had tried the 5:2 diet before, where you fast for 2 days a week and eat normally on the other 5. Success had been modest, that way of eating never really gelled with me.
But I gave the 16:8 diet a try and I am so glad I did. It consists of eating for only an 8 hour period each day, and fasting for the remaining 16. The fact that the latter includes your sleeping hours makes it a lot easier than it otherwise would be, and you can choose the 8 hour eating period during the day that suits you best. Some people skip breakfast, others dinner. I am in the unfortunate position that I am a breakfast person, but DH is a dinner devotee. I could skip dinner, but if I did I wouldn’t of course cook any, which means Mr Rivergum would rarely get to eat a vegetable if he had to cook dinner for himself on a daily basis. Not good!
So I compromised by making my eating period start at 10am with a breakfast at work and finish at 6pm, which gives me time to produce and eat dinner. The 10am breakfast is a bit difficult for a breakfast lover like me, but the diet success has made it well worth the effort.
So I started this regime on Jan 9 in 2016 and it worked like absolute magic. The principle of 16:8 is not strictly about caloric restriction, but I found myself eating about 1000-1200 calories a day, just because I found I could. I wasn’t hungry, nor was I tempted to eat rubbish in the least. So I gave up sugar at the same time, because it was ridiculously easy, and was high instead on feeling so incredibly virtuous. For once, my body was on my side and seemed to be urging me on. I lost nearly a kilo per week, previously unheard of when the best I could hope for was a kilo a month.
By Easter that year I had lost 7kg and finally hit the inevitable plateau. So I eased up a bit and ate normally for a few days. That helped and the weight loss continued like magic. By the end of April I was 10kg lighter. Then we went away for a couple of weeks holiday and I suspended my diet in order to enjoy myself. I still ate sensibly though, my stomach had been retrained to expect smaller portions and I was no longer in the habit of chronic overeating. I did not gain much weight, maybe half a kilo or so. When I got home I continued with my diet without too much trouble and had soon lost that again.
Of course the weight loss slowed down eventually, after the initial 10kg loss the honeymoon was over. Another holiday in Austria, the fabulous Cake Central of the Universe, Christmas etc resulted in a kilo or so gained, then subsequently lost again as I returned to my diet. In all I have lost nearly 16kg. My initial target was 10kg, then 12, then 15. As my thighs and hips slimmed, my tummy disappeared and my arms started to look good in sleeveless tops, the changes have kept me motivated to push a little further as each goal was reached. I enjoy my new, slimmer body.
I also find that my current eating regime is something I can stick to indefinitely. I have a set routine adhering to the 16:8 during the week, then have an earlier breakfast and a treat or two on the weekend. During the week, if I have few more salads for dinner and no wine, I lose a little weight. Pasta meals for dinner and a glass of wine or two, and I don’t. Gain a little as I indulge during a holiday. Lose it again as I get back to normal afterwards. Seems good to me.
I am now at around 64kg and aiming for 62. After a 16kg loss that seems very doable. More would be greedy.
But, as we all know, losing weight is one thing and keeping it off quite another. I don’t think I can ever afford to return to the eating I thought of as normal before. One or two treats a day, really? Thankfully my appetite has changed, I am much more aware of when I feel full, or just not hungry. I can look at chocolate all day without feeling tempted, although I have enjoyed eating some this Easter, the first time in months. But it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice that it will be off the menu again until Christmas now.
My big temptation is cakes. I just love them. So I allow myself a treat on the weekend, sometimes two. Apart from that I stay away from sugar, other than whatever is in fruit. I try to stick to food I have prepared myself and don’t eat take away much at all, except for the odd salad and even then I am suspicious of how much sugar they put in the dressing.
During the week I have a set routine, which I find helpful. I have a home made Bircher Muesli for breakfast, consisting of apple, skim or normal milk, oats and a changing addition of something healthy such as linseed or almond meal or quinoa flakes or some such. 400 calories for breakfast are about right. I have a few tea with skim milk during the day and my lunch consists of a bit of plain salad, plus two slices of healthy seeded bread with hommus and goats cheese or smoked salmon or trout. Twice a week I have freshly made sushi instead because it is available. Dinner is whatever, but home made and in sensible portions. I don’t eat much meat and we have a vegetable garden, which encourages me to eat vegetable based meals. They can be very simple, last winter we ate a lot of spuds with spinach, herbs and a bit of feta. Delicious, cooked up quickly and far superior to any take away available in my neck of the woods. I love a good cheese platter, but have it instead of dinner, not on top of it. A choice of a couple of cheeses with dried and fresh fruit, tomatoes and pickles, with a glass of wine, makes a great Friday night dinner.
Routine during the week really helps me stick to good food, although I am aware that variety is important too. I am fond of a glass of wine, but try to cut down as much as possible, thinking that if alcohol is not good for kids’ brains, maybe it is not so good for seniors either. Having some hand stitching or knitting to do at night strangely enough helps me to stick to herb tea.
So this is what has worked for me and I am comfortable with the idea of sticking to it indefinitely. But everyone is different and has to find out for themselves what works for them. I think added sugar on a daily basis is problematic and best avoided, particularly when there is a danger of setting up a habit. One biscuit with afternoon tea is not the devil, except when you have afternoon tea every day and there is a temptation of having that biscuit every day too, and then a couple etc etc.
One trick I use when I feel like a little something while I am working, — mostly this happens because I am doing something that I am not enjoying –, is that I keep a vial of rosemary oil on my desk. I rub a few drops on the back of my hands, the smell is not overpowering like perfume but it is a little treat and keeps me away from edible ones. A bit of a weird habit, but whatever floats your boat…
If you have read as far as this you will be on your own weight loss journey or at least contemplating one, so good luck with it and know that it can be done. In my case even without too much pain and with a significant health gain along the way.