Smorgasbord Health Column – Project 101 – Resilience – An opportunity to get fighting fit – Sally Cronin

Welcome to the new series – Project 101 – Resilience.

As with most of you, I have spent the last 10 weeks in lock down with only a visit to the supermarket for fresh produce once a week. Thankfully, and touch wood, none of our family or close friends have been infected and slowly we are all coming out of hibernation and preparing to face the world again.

I am sure I am not alone in feeling somewhat nervous about this and will continue with my early shopping to avoid the crowds, wear gloves and a mask when shopping and decontaminate when I get home again.

I have been making good use of the time by continuing to work on keeping myself fit plus resurrecting some writing projects. I have also been planning the direction I would like the blog to take in the next year. For example, I wanted to make use of all the health posts that I have in the archives which number in their 100s, and re-purpose them in a way that readers would find useful.

Project 101 – Resilience.

Let me say upfront, that I cannot promise that what you will read over the next few weeks will prevent you catching a viral or bacterial infection, but what I would like to do is to encourage as many people as possible to take themselves out of the identified high risk categories by making some small changes to their lifestyle and diet.

One of the highest risks is to those over 70, particularly those who have underlying health problems. However, those health problems are predominantly lifestyle related and do not have to be for life. For example, Obesity, Type II Diabetes, Inflammatory diseases, nutritional deficiencies such as Vitamin D and High Blood Pressure.

I see a window of opportunity for all of us to review our health, diet and lifestyle and see where we can make improvements to boost our immune systems, reduce our risk factors and feel more confident about going back out into the world again. A chance to get our bodies fighting fit.

Over the last 20 years or so of working with 100s of clients as a nutritional therapist, I have discovered that making sweeping changes does not work. There are three elements that require attention, physical, mental and emotional, and making small but key changes in these areas is much more effective.

Some background for anyone new to the blog reading this.

Although I am 67 years old and in good health, it was not always the case and I am very grateful that I took this approach  25 years ago to take back control of my life and health.

When I was 42 years old, I ticked all the boxes in the list of risk factors of becoming critically ill if infected by the Covid-19 virus.  I weighed 330lbs – 24 stone, had high blood pressure, was pre-diabetic with high blood sugar levels, and had frequent respiratory infections and I was working in a high stress environment.

I experienced my wake-up call in 1995, when a doctor told me bluntly that I would be very lucky to reach 45. Which was why it was probably not advisable to ride a mechanical bull…especially as it struggled to move, much to the concern of the operator!

I had experienced weight issues since the age of ten, littered with crash diets and bingeing that had led to this crossroads in my life. I started studying nutrition and medicine, spending hours reading complex medical books in an effort to find the reasons behind my inability to lose weight and keep it off. Most of it was double Dutch to be honest and I began taking notes in plain English so that I could understand better. I came to the conclusion that the medical profession did not actually want you to understand your body and health issues!

Once I knew how the organs and the operating systems of my body worked, including my brain which was key in my weight and health issues, and had a better understanding of my body’s nutritional needs, I set about losing weight. I knew that unlike in the past when I had rushed into every new fad diet that hit the media, I had to adopt a healthy and sustainable approach to the challenge by developing a project plan, in the same way I had for years in a business environment. As I worked through this project plan I also continued to study nutrition and medicine which I had now found completely fascinating.

After 18 months I had lost 154lbs, no longer required blood pressure medication, my blood sugar and cholesterol levels were normal and I felt at least ten years younger.

Me in 1998 after 154lbs weight loss

I have had some lapses in the last 25 years, usually due to being in stressful environments, but I have managed to pull myself back from regaining all the weight I had lost by reverting to my original project plan. Now at 67 I am at a healthy weight and still do not need any prescribed medication as all my key indicators are within normal ranges.

Read the complete weight loss guide: Weight Loss – Size Matters The Sequel

Risk Factors.

This leads directly into the identified key risk factors for all ages during the pandemic which include obesity, underlying health issues such as high blood pressure, diabetes, respiratory diseases such as COPD and heart conditions. Being deficient in Vitamin D for example has also been included in this list.

The most at risk members of our society are those over 65 years old, not just because they are more likely to have underlying health issues, but because the human body as it ages goes through some fundamental changes in structure and function.

For example, we are more likely to become less active and our lungs, which are the organs most impacted by a respiratory virus, stiffen and do not have the flexibility to work effectively enough to get rid of the infection.

There is also a likelihood of a suppressed immune system and that can be the result of a deficiency of essential nutrients. This happens when a person begins to eat less due to lack of activity and appetite, but also due to a less efficient digestive system. More older people have dental issues and opt for foods that are easier to eat and are missing components such as fibre. Stomach acid may be less and therefore food is not in the right format when it passes into the intestines to have nutrients extracted and passed into the bloodstream.

There is also a severe risk of Vitamin D deficiency in older members of our society who are less active and particularly those who are in care homes who have restricted access to the outside. This risk however, is not limited to the older generation as scientists have identified a high percentage of Covid – 19 patients are deficient in the vitamin.

The majority of men and women over 65 are also on a cocktail of prescribed medication that have side effects such as blood pressure pills, other heart medications and Statins for cholesterol. And whilst you should not stop taking any drugs that have been prescribed for you by your doctor, there is an opportunity that working with them, you could reduce your need for them over time.

One of the key issues facing us as we get older is inflammation within the body and is a result of our own immune system going into overdrive resulting in arthritis, myocarditis – inflammation in the heart resulting in breathing problems, inflammation in the small vessels in the lungs, water retention and in the kidneys resulting in high blood pressure. Inflammation in  the brain is also a cause of memory loss and dementia. I will look at this key issue in  more detail later in the series, and share some ways we can limit its influence on our health.

What I will cover in Project 101 – Resilience.

It is not my intention to repeat all the posts on weight loss, the immune system, digestive system, diabetes, the brain and the lungs in all their detail.

Instead the posts will be about making small changes over a period of time to improve both function and resilience of the body so that should you catch a virus, including Covid-19 you are better equipped to fight off the infection.

To back up the posts I am creating pages of the relevant series such as weight loss that you can read in full should you wish to find out more. This includes the entire Size Matters the Sequel series of 17 Chapters that I have put into one page that you can bookmark and read at your leisure. As we go through the project I will upload more pages on the other topics for you to access easily. You may well have read the posts in the last few years, but I hope putting them together in this way will make them easier to access for reference.

Among the topics I will be covering:

  • Weight loss and some hacks that helped me lose over 150lbs
  • Inflammation in the body and brain one of the leading causes of disease
  • Lung function improvement.
  • Immune system boosting
  • Vitamin D and its vital role in keeping our bodies safe.
  • Exercise – keeping moving and the body functioning.
  • Flexibility – not just in body but in mind.
  • Blood Pressure – we need it to pump blood around our bodies, but too high and it can be dangerous.
  • Type II Diabetes and Pre-diabetes – risk factors that are simple to reverse
  • The Brain – The control centre of the body and it needs to be treated with respect.
  • Stress and its impact on weight and major organs such as the heart.
  • Acidity and Alkalinity in the body and how are creating the perfect environment for pathogens.

Whether you need to lose 7lbs or 100lbs you need to know where you are now.

It is important to have a start point when you are planning to lose weight so that you have a road map to follow, with a destination that is attainable. I often hear clients say ‘I would just love to lose 10 kilos or 2 stone or 10lbs’. This is based not necessarily on the actual weight they need to lose but what they consider to be an acceptably achievable goal. To be honest you need to be a little more specific than this. You may only need to lose 7lbs or 100lbs or you may need to lose more to reach a healthy weight for your age and activity level.

There are two common methods of measuring your weight with regard to health and that is a straightforward weight/height/sex comparison and BMI or Body Mass Index. I believe that it is easier to manage and track your actual weight rather than focus on just BMI – certainly if you are a body builder and fit, determining your health with BMI is not relevant.

Most ideal weight profiles are derived from insurance company statistical tables. These tables however were produced nearly 60 years ago when physically we were shorter and our diet following the war years was still restricted for many people.

I don’t believe that these tables are appropriate today and if you take the ideal weights in that table and treat it as the minimum weight for your height then I believe that it is more realistic for this generation. It is a guideline only and the important factors are the indicators of how healthy you are internally as well as externally.

Of greater importance to me, are your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

As you lose weight it is a very good idea not to just look at the lbs lost and inches but also improvement levels in all of the key indicators such as BP, Blood Glucose, Cholesterol. If you have high blood pressure for example, every 14lbs you lose could relate to a drop of 10% in your blood pressure.  This is particularly important if you are taking BP medication and you should work with your doctor to bring you off medication when you BP had dropped to normal levels. Pharmacies very often offer these tests so that you can check your improvements every 6 weeks or so.

It is very satisfactory to see those numbers coming down to normal levels and it is as important as the weight lost. I will cover these in more detail as we go through the series.

Feed the body, don’t starve it.

I also do not believe in starving the body into submission – when I was studying to correct my own weight issues, I realised that despite being 24 stone I was suffering from malnutrition. Lots of calories but too few nutrients in my diet – hence mal–nourished. You have no idea how funny most of my overweight clients found that notion.

You will often hear the expression “starvation syndrome” which is where the body loses weight under famine conditions (crash diet) and then rebounds with extra weight when there is a time of harvest (when you start to eat normally again) I have always preferred to call this “nutritional deficiency syndrome” .

Some of the other important issues also need to be taken into account.

During your weight loss do you have plenty of energy and is your immune system functioning efficiently? Losing weight successfully involves a number of other factors apart from the food you eat, including exercise, willpower and your emotional involvement.

However, we do need that start point and I have a basic ready reckoner that you can adapt for your own physical build. I have used this for years for both myself and my clients and I have found it the easiest to combine both frame size and weight.

How much should you weigh?

There are a number of sites that will work out your frame size for you – it involves your wrist measurement and your height. Take your wrist measurement with a tape measure and plug in with your height. So for example.. I am 5ft 11inches and my wrist measures 6.5 inches which gives me a medium body frame.

Women: Height under 5’2″

Small = wrist size less than 5.5″
Medium = wrist size 5.5″ to 5.75″
Large = wrist size over 5.75″

Height 5’2″ to 5′ 5″

Small = wrist size less than 6″
Medium = wrist size 6″ to 6.25″
Large = wrist size over 6.25″

Height over 5′ 5″

Small = wrist size less than 6.25″
Medium = wrist size 6.25″ to 6.5″
Large = wrist size over 6.5″

Men: Height over 5′ 5″

Small = wrist size 5.5″ to 6.5″
Medium = wrist size 6.5″ to 7.5″
Large = wrist size over 7.5″

Source: Medline Plus

Working out your weight.

For medium framed women as the average. As a base, use 100lbs up to five foot and then 6lbs for every inch over that height. Modify by 5% either way if you have a light frame or heavy frame.

For medium framed men. As a base, use 106lbs up to five foot and then 7lbs for every inch over that height. Modify either way by 5% if you have a light frame or heavy frame.


 A woman who is a heavy frame and 5’ 6” would have an optimal weight of: 100lbs + (6lbs for every inch over 5ft) 36lbs = 136lbs – Add 5% for heavy frame = 6.8lbs

This gives an optimum weight of 142.8lbs, 10stone 2lbs or 67.7Kilos

A light framed man of 5’ 10” would have an optimum weight of: 106lbs + (7lbs for every inch over 5ft) 70lbs = 176lbs – Subtract 5% for light frame = 9lbs

This gives an optimum weight of 167lbs,  11stone 13lbs or 75.9Kilos.

Another motivating way to measure your progress is to take an honest (really honest) Before Photograph and then at set intervals along your path to health. Having the After Photo – framed and on display will help you keep you on target.

Here are just three of mine that marked my weight loss project.

Me at 330lbs — then after 100lbs lost….then 145lbs almost at the finish line.

I will be sharing more weight loss hacks over the next few weeks as part of  the series.

Get moving with Music Therapy

One of the perks of being a radio presenter was being asked to MC charity events and my job was to warm everyone up before the walk or race with some motivational music… over the course of these posts I will be sharing my playlist for those events and to help build your resilience and improve physical, mental and emotional well-being.

Give yourself a break after reading this post and get up and get moving. Ideally every two hours of inactivity should be followed by at least 15 minutes of activity.

If you are not particularly active at the moment then you can walk on the spot, but swing your arms in time to the music so that you activate your breathing. If you are a little bit more adventurous then take to the floor and have fun – Here is Bee Gees with Jive Talking thanks to beegees

Buy music by the Bee GeesAmazon US

I will also be offering to help anyone who wishes to have a review done of their current diet with a two week food diary analysis.  This might be useful if you need to loose weight or feel that you are not getting the full range of nutrients you need.

Here are the links to the pages that support the posts in the series

Weight Loss – Size Matters The Sequel
The Lungs
The Immune System and Vitamin D
The Digestive and Immune System
Pre-Diabetes and Diabetes

I hope you will join me again tomorrow but if you miss any posts they will be linked in the weekly round up next Saturday and also in a page in the main menu.  thanks Sally

©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2020

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-two years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.

If you would like to browse my health books and fiction you can find them here: My books and reviews 2020


64 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Health Column – Project 101 – Resilience – An opportunity to get fighting fit – Sally Cronin

  1. You’re amazing, Sally! Timely or what as – at only 5ft – I’ve now shrunk…I’ve put on weight since lock-down.Reason? More sitting reading, writing and watching TV/listening to music, etc., (Now I’m “two fat ladies: 88..” and have a slight heart problem I can’t walk as fast or far as I used to. I do exercises at home now and then, energy permitting…and walk around the pool a few times but badly need to UP MY GAME, as the saying goes..(.No sugar in tea, smaller dinner portions,no fry-ups, and only half a biscuit with tea, three times a day, but the odd slice of cake maybe suspect!.) Promise I’ll try harder! Take care. Hugs xx

    Liked by 2 people

  2. A very inspiring story, Sally! Afteri got knowledge of you weigh lost, i got motivation to do so, too.
    This was last year, and now i lost around 30 kg, and changed my meals into more vegetables, yoghurt, no sugar, no extra salt, and very less meat. Feeling like new born. Thank you! Once can see how useful only motivation – with a role model and good health tips – can be. Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This will be a fabulous series, Sally, and so looking forward to it. Your weight loss is a wonderful testament of what people can achieve – and most importantly, you’ve managed to maintain that weight loss. I call it a lifestyle choice every day – to live the best life. Toni x

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love that beautiful pink top/jacket, Sally …I am looking forward to this series I need to get moving again this quarantine has me picking and tasting far too much of what I am baking…Hugs xxx

    Liked by 1 person

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  8. I had no idea, Sally! Well done and all that, and I’m definitely interested in your diet information. I’m nursing my baby and can’t seem to shake 10 lbs, let alone the 40 I’d love to ultimately shake.

    Liked by 1 person

    • If you are nursing Chelsea then you need to make sure that you are getting enough calories and if you make each one count.. i.e. that they are nutritionally dense, and you cut out as much refined sugar as possible, you will be making a good start. Also important as any sugars that you consume that don’t come from fruits and vegetables and whole grains will be passed on to your baby.. It is tough I know but don’t worry too much about dieting just focus on giving you and your baby the best nutrition possible… if you need help then keep a food diary (including fluids) for two weeks and send it to me at and I will see if there are any areas that you could tweak.. hugs Sally.


  9. Sally, you look beautiful in the photos. The pink jacket, the white suit, they’re gorgeous on you! It may take me some time to catch up with your posts, but I’m planning to read all of them. I’ve lost 20 pounds this year and need to lose 20 more to be at my mathematically ideal weight. I know part of the problem: I’m a stress eater and the stress over the last few years has been pretty high. Looking forward to sharing this journey with all your other readers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Amy, and I know that stress related poundage very well.. When I was looking after my mother I put back 50lbs and it seemed to come from nowhere..but I knew I was not sleeping, eating on the fly, full of cortisol and not getting fresh air and exercise… I hope you will find it interesting as we go along… I don’t agree with crash dieting but prefer to make minor adjustments along the way… hugsx

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Incredible series, Sally! Very informative and, wow, for loosing that weight and keeping on track,. Double wow for wanting to share all that information, work, and experience with your readers. For me, it’s the belly and the hips that seem to keep expanding! I blame my age, as I walk daily for at least an hour and follow a plant-based diet with little sugar, no processed foods (meats), and few splurges…

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This is a fantastic series, Sally. I’m particularly interested to learn more about Vitamin D insufficiency. My youngest, 27 and with Asperger’s, rarely, if ever, goes outside and has a very low count. He is on supplements prescribed by our GP but despite that, his annual Vit D test still shows it being low. And mine was lower than normal last year too, so I’ve been upping my supplements. One good thing about lockdown, is I’ve been in the garden a lot more and getting that lovely sun – careful not to burn, though! Hoping that helps. Sally, you are amazing and look amazing. I had no idea of your health and weight battles. What a true inspiration you are! ❤ xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Pingback: Smorgasbord Health Column – Project 101 – Resilience – An opportunity to get fighting fit – Round Up – Sally Cronin | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

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