This is the updated and fifth edition of Size Matters and will be re-released later in the year. Although it contains much of the original material in relation to my own personal story, the programme has evolved over the last 20 years.
Although I studied nutritional therapy back in the mid-1990s, I have continued my studies and developed new programmes for healthy eating that are tailor made for the individual rather than a one size fits all. I still believe that the key elements of this basic weight loss programme I will share with you in this updated version works. Even when I work with clients who have arthritis or diabetes, I still approach their programmes from the three dimensions that I outline in this book. Our physical approach, our mental attitude and our emotions are all factors in how we overcome disease and obesity, and should all be addressed when looking for the right programme that will work for each individual.
I used to weigh 330 lbs and was given a death sentence 23 years ago. I had very high blood pressure, cholesterol levels through the roof and my blood was awash with sugar. I took this swift kick up the backside to heart and did something about it, losing 154 lbs in 18 months and regaining my health in the process.
I am now 66 years old, have a moderately active but busy lifestyle as an author and blogger,and thankfully, do not need medication other than the specific supplements when required. I think about those days 23 years ago, when even climbing the stairs to bed were a challenge and left me breathless. My story, and the programme that I have adapted over the years, is still relevant today, as we face a massive increase in obesity and in the associated health problems – Cardiovascular disease, Diabetes and Dementia.
When I was classified as morbidly obese it was very uncommon in the UK, although having lived in Texas in the mid-1980s, it was evident that the obesity epidemic had already begun.
When we arrived we were met with a wonderful abundance of food, huge portions when out for a meal, and a bewildering array of industrially produced foods in the aisles of the supermarket. In the UK at that time we had fish and chip shops and curry takeaway, but we were mesmerised by the amount of fast food available 24 hours a day. It was also clear that manufacturers were already catering more than food for the growing population, with outsize fashion for both men and women making billions of dollars a year.
When I look at group photographs taken at work with other people back in 1995, it is clear that I stand out from the crowd, and not in a good way. I usually avoided photographs like the plague especially when standing next to what I considered to be normal sized people. That sense of being alone as the one obese person in the room has changed dramatically in the last 24 years.
Here are some statistics that are very sobering about obesity today in the UK and I know from doing some research that a similar set of statistics is causing grave concern in most Western countries that are literally the lands of plenty. (https://www.healthexpress.co.uk/obesity/uk-statistics)
• 1 in 4 adults are classed as obese and a further 62% are overweight.
• This makes Britain has the 2nd highest rate of obesity in the world and the largest in Europe.
• 48 billion is spent managing the social causes and healthcare of obesity.
• There are 7 million cases of diabetes, 6.5 million cases of heart disease and stroke and 500,000 cancer cases linked to obesity.
• Hypertension (high blood pressure) was twice as common in obese adults compared to those with a normal weight.
• A BMI of over 30 can reduce life expectancy by 3 years.
• Approximately 68% of men and 58% of women are classed as overweight, however, there are more hospital admissions linked to women.
• Obesity is generally more prevalent in the north of England.
• Morbid obesity rates have almost triple since 1993. This is a BMI of over 40.
This is an epidemic of catastrophic proportions. Unless action is taken in the next few years, these statistics will increase to the point where not only will more and more individuals become crippled and diseased, but so will the health services who will be attempting to repair the bodies at great cost.
I wrote this book over 20 years ago to share my story and some of the strategies that I developed to take back control of my life, body and importantly my addiction to food, particularly a combination of fat and sugars. That combination lies at the heart of the obesity epidemic and if you look at the profile of industrially manufactured foods, they are the leading ingredients.
Another thing you will discover is that I am very anti crash and fad dieting. I starved my body into submission for over thirty years and my body responded by storing everything I ate. I will explain this process in more detail later in the book, but for the moment I just want to reassure you that this programme is about eating and not starving. You need to provide your body with the nutrients and energy it needs to function and be healthy. This means eating the right food, and plenty of it.
My journey began in despair, with a long road stretching ahead of me. Luckily I had a wonderful team to support me and I would have achieved very little in those first few months without my husband’s love and support. My family, friends loved me whatever weight I have been but I know that they were tremendously relieved when I gave up my self-destructive behaviour and changed my life so drastically.
I still communicate with people around the world who have severe obesity problems as well as those people who want to improve the standard of their health or support their body as it deals with certain medical problems. I believe passionately in the power of food to help you lose weight and regain health and I am on a constant mission to learn more about all the wonderful varieties that are available to us.
This book is not just about promoting a healthier lifestyle. It is a personal story that I hope will inspire other people who are desperate to find a solution to their weight or health problem.
This was my journey and I hope that after reading the first few chapters you will relate how I felt, to your own story, and be motivated to take control of your weight and health. Whether you need to lose 14 lbs. (6 kg), 50 lbs. (23 kg) or 150 lbs. (68 kg), it is still necessary to understand how you managed to become overweight in the first place.
As I have become less active and become more desk bound the weight has slowly been creeping up, so I can assure you that I am not a paragon of virtue. And in fact over the last twenty years, when encountering stressful experiences, I have all too gladly dived back into the sugar and fats that bring such comfort. Thankfully, it does not take long for me to remember how I felt when trying to navigate doorways and stairs, and I give myself a good talking to and get back on track. As I update this edition of Size Matters, I will be making sure that I retrace my own steps and lose those extra pounds.
The physical, mental and emotional elements of obesity.
There are physical, mental and emotional elements that influence our lifestyle and diet, and remembering those difficult and sometimes distressing times in our lives can be painful. I hope that like me that you also have many happy memories to help bring things back into perspective. When you finally succeed in achieving a state of balanced state of health it gives you an amazing sense of achievement and for me that feeling persists today.
My journey to health was not all smooth sailing and I have climbed a very steep learning curve. For instance, I came to appreciate the power of that little word NO. Instinctively we want to fit in, to have people like and accept us, and so we say YES, but trying to please everyone is stressful and unrewarding.
The satisfaction of eating a bar of chocolate is nothing compared to the satisfaction I feel now when I say NO to eating one. I can now say NO to many things that have caused me harm, though I have had to learn to say it graciously without offending well-meaning family and friends.
My reason for sharing some of the most challenging experiences of my life, is not to gain sympathy but to demonstrate that it does not have to define you and that you can move through it to a much better sense of worth. If you don’t and you find self destructive ways to comfort yourself, the experience or the people who caused your pain have won.
A brief overview of the programme in part two of Size Matters.
I believed in working with people on a one-to-one basis, rather than in a group, helping them to achieve their desired weight loss. In a way that is also achieved today as you read this book or read my health posts on my blog. The program that many have followed over the years when I was in practice, forms the second part of this book. Everything is there for you to design your own healthy eating program around your personal likes, dislikes and lifestyle.
If you are overweight, you need to take back control of your life and your eating habits, and this program is a tool to do just that. No gimmicks, pills or special diet foods, just good healthy eating, several times a day, with some walks thrown in. Nothing hard about that. We all possess the ingredients to ensure the success of this program – determination, willpower and patience. All that remains is to discover how to activate those particular skills and start using them.
My life has been transformed, and there is no way in the world that I will go back to the old life however many times I have been tempted over the last 23 years. Particularly when I remember that my life expectancy at the time was counted in just a few years. If this book makes a similar difference for just one person, then it will have been worth it.
If I can communicate a single message to you it is that obesity, and the misery attached to it, need not be for life.
Next time Chapter One…Life or Death… I am told by a doctor that at 42 it is likely that my obesity related health issues would make it unlikely I would reach 45.
You can find all my books and recent reviews in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2019/