This is the updated and fifth edition of Size Matters and I had intended to release in 2021 for the 25th anniversary of my initial weight loss. However, with everything else going on in the world it did not seem appropriate to celebrate when people’s minds were fixed on survival in lockdown. Although this serialisation ontains much of the original material in relation to my own personal story, the programme has evolved over the last 25 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.
Last week I explored how we need to manage other people and our own expectations
You can read the previous post: HERE
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.
Weightloss – The Project Plan for Success
So far we have explored how you got to this phase in your life where you are uncomfortable with the extra weight you are carrying. Now it is time for you to tailor make your eating programme for the next phase, which is achieving optimum health for your age. Let’s face it, if like me you are 69 years old, with a wonky knee and a love of more sedate sports such as walking and swimming, throwing yourself into rock climbing, triathlons and training for the Olympics is probably not on the cards.
Having said that, it is amazing what you can do once you lose a few of those pounds and you begin to feel lighter. Suddenly more active sports do not seem so out of the question, and there is many a silver surfer who has taken to the waves rather than the Internet. A great deal of this is down to attitude, determination and willpower. All of which is usually fixed by getting a dog who demands walks three times a day and won’t take no for an answer! Whatever the weather!
I know that there are mantras and inspiring quotes out there which encourage you to embrace your body shape and to get out there in swimsuits and lycra….but trust me once you have been the size of a small bell tent.. it is not that easy.
Even now I shudder at the thought of exposing my body to the public gaze and chlorine of a public swimming pool and I do have a pretty good body image. I admire those of the more voluptuous body shape to take it all in their stride and certainly the younger generation are better at this. Possibly, forgive me, because there are a great many more younger people who are obese and it is less of an issue of standing out from the crowd.
When you tailor make your eating and exercise programme to lose weight it is not a question of diving in and cutting out all suspect foods and trying to run three times a week.
I have already shared how important it is to keep your body supplied with nutritionally dense foods whilst reducing those foods that are not just suspect but sabotaging to your health and waistline.
Such as sugar, white flour and industrially produced foods.
Before you begin your program, it is important to set some ground rules.
There are not many to remember, but they will assist you in becoming successful at sensible and healthy eating.
Do not skip snacks or meals. Remember – you must eat something every two or three hours so that you stimulate your metabolism and keep your blood sugar levels stable. This will help prevent cravings later in the day and will stop that nagging feeling of hunger. It will also be easier for your body to absorb and process these smaller meals rather than one very large meal. That process begins in the mouth where you should chew the food well and mix with saliva, which will then slip down the oesophagus, into the stomach where the acid will form it into a liquid before it gets mixed with bile and other enzymes to ease it into the intestines where the goodness can be extracted.
There are a lot of articles about Intermittent Fasting and leaving a long gap between your last meal at night and eating in the morning, preferably between 14 and 16 hours. But if you are very overweight and have been dipping into the cookie jar every time you felt the need; it will be much more difficult to stick to the programme.
I recommend very strongly that you do not fast completely as your body will react negatively to being starved and will only store any food you do then eat as it counteracts the famine.
Despite the operating systems of your body continuing to work overnight, it does so on standby mode using up approximately half the calories per hour as it does during the day. It needs to be given a boost when you wake up to get it back into gear..
You should not go to bed with a full stomach, and I recommend that you allow at least three hours after eating, and you will get a better night’s sleep. If you finish eating by 7pm and eat your breakfast at 8am. You will have given your body thirteen hours to recover, digest and use up some fat before you begin eating again.
If you can get in 30 minutes of moderate exercise before breakfast that would be even better. Then for the next eight hours or so eat moderate main meals with healthy snacks between. I will give you some ideas for those meals later in the series.
Keeping a food diary is essential for the first few weeks of your program. Not only will it encourage you to be honest about your daily intake, but you should make the effort to learn from it.
For example, apart from Candida Albicans there are other food related issues to consider. Although not as common as the ‘Gluten Free’ multi-billion food industry would have you believe, there are a percentage of people who are allergic to gluten or react to it in a milder form. It is estimated that around 1 in 5,000 people have celiac disease and cannot digest gluten, but that around 1 in 200 may have an intolerance or sensitivity to gluten.
By keeping a food diary you can establish a base line of which foods may cause you certain symptoms when eaten. Usually in the last 12 to 24 hours.
For example bloating, wind, cramps associated with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and also NCP (not chewing your food properly!). You cannot swallow large chunks of food, especially the high fibre variety such as vegetables and expect them to miraculous become a smooth addition to your guts.
Another benefit of a food diary is finding the right fuel mix for you as an individual. If in one week you met your weight loss target, felt energetic and looked great, what were you eating to achieve that?
By reviewing your diary, you gain insight into the fuel mix that works for you.
Likewise if you find you have reached a plateau and have not lost weight. It can be easy to skip snacks, thinking that you are not hungry, but you will soon see that gaps in your food diary can lead to hunger or picking at food later in the day.
The diary is your basic tool to help you establish a pattern of healthy eating that one-day you will automatically keep to.
Make sure that you keep your food program varied. Not only do you need the full spectrum of nutrients, but you should also avoid boredom.
Get out the recipe books and be creative, especially in substituting other products for fat and sugar. I have compiled a list of possible substitutes later in the series, but if you look around you will find many more.
One of the boons of my early days dieting was my old crockpot, now upgraded to a large slow cooker. I would make a chicken stew with loads of vegetables that would last the two of us three nights. I would serve with a small portion of rice (a tablespoon) or a small amount of potato, and it was really filling. Usually by the time we had taken the solids out there was enough each for a rich and nutritious soup for supper. As all the vegetables were cooked with the chopped chicken in a vegetable stock, none of the goodness was lost.
We lose around two litres of water each day, not just as wee, but as we breath and through our skin…and this has to be replaced in order to remain hydrated, and to prevent our bodies from taking fluid from sources that may contain a high percentage of sugars. If you feel tired, and/or suffer from headaches and irritability, it could well be that you are dehydrated. Start the day with a large glass of water and then drink regularly throughout the day. It is better to drink a glass of room temperature water 30 minutes before your meal and then leave an hour before having another.
Avoid drinking large amounts of water with your main meal,(something it seems every restaurant in America provides even if you don’t ask for it) since this can drown the gastric juices that process your meal and cause wind and bloating.
Drink a glass of water 30 minutes before your main meal and then about an hour afterwards.
There are some fluids that aid digestion – a glass of red wine occasionally, or a peppermint tea after a meal out. All fluids count, although I don’t recommend 8 cups of coffee a day as you will be wired, but certainly both coffee and green tea in particular have antioxidants that are good for you. And also coffee, green tea, ginger, cayenne pepper, black pepper and funnily enough coconut oil….can have a thermogenic effect and aid fat burning!
Only weigh yourself once a fortnight to begin with, but never more than once a week – always at the same time and on the same scales. Your weight will fluctuate during the week, so hopping on and off the scales can be demoralising. Some people swear by daily weigh-ins, and that if that is what you wish to do then leave it until you have lost most of your weight and are getting down to the last couple of stone.
Control your portion sizes. Just because a food is good for you does not mean that you can eat huge amounts of it. Remember, if you eat more than your body requires, you will put on weight.
A bowl of chopped salad is great but do remember that adding even low fat mayonnaise comes at a price…100gm of low fat mayonnaise can contain between 6gm to 10gm of sugar.
There are hundreds of recipes online for sugar free dressings that are still low in fat. I have a mix of balsamic vinegar with one teaspoon of coconut oil some black pepper and a pinch of salt for one very large fresh salad and it coats it deliciously. Remember, moderate main meals, and small snacks.
Alcohol may be low in fat but it is high in carbohydrates and sugars, and therefore calories. One large glass of wine a day, seven days a week, can add up to 30 lbs (14 kg) of body fat a year.
Try to limit drinking alcohol to special occasions, and then have only two or three drinks at a time. Drinking more than this can put additional stress on your liver which has to deal with the alcohol in your system. There are so many articles online about the benefits of alcohol and how one glass a night is better for you than having no alcohol at all… not sure who sponsors them but I can tell you that when I stopped drinking completely for the first six months of my weight loss 27 years ago I lost considerably more than I had previously when I had attempted to lose weight.
Previously we used to share a bottle of wine most nights and that adds up to 60lbs (28kg) per year!
Stop thinking like a fat person and start thinking like a slim one. Start talking about ‘when’, not ‘if’, I lose weight. Also there is a six letter word that is your nemesis…‘Should’.
We use it blatantly when we want to avoid doing anything. I should lose weight, I should stop smoking, I should save money!…Very wishy, washy and not going to get you over the finish line. Start using the word ‘MUST’ instead. Put some muscle behind it and get it done.
Also stop eating for the size you are. I cannot count the number of times I was told ‘take two you are a big girl’ or ‘have a second helping you need all the energy you can get’… no actually you need to eat for the person you are going to become, not the one you have become!
Find an incentive that will be achieved when you have reached certain weights.
When I had lost about 40lbs, I bought a black velvet dress designed for someone with an hour glass figure. The dress hung in a clear plastic bag, on the front of my wardrobe for the 18 months it took for me to get into it.
When I bought the dress I was wearing size 28UK and it was a size 16. You need to find something that is in your face every day that reminds you of why you are doing this.
Remember – this is not a diet! It is a healthy eating program. It must become integrated into your life, so it needs to be interesting, stimulating and non-restrictive in order to work. And as they say. A little of what you fancy does you good!
©sally cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2022
Next time – a realistic approach to how much you should weigh and identifying how many lbs you need to shift to achieve that.
A little bit about me nutritionally. .
About Sally Cronin
I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-four 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 21 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, radio programmes and posts here on Smorgasbord.