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 shared how you can determine how much weight you should lose to be healthy
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.
Putting your Eating Plan together Part One #Measurements #Motivation
So far in this series I have covered the basics of how you might have become overweight, and some strategies to put in place to make sure you are successful, however much you weight you need to shed. This included making sure you deal with any underlying health issues such as Candida Albicans and getting your willpower in shape. Last week I shared the abundance of food that you can eat as get to a healthy weight and now it is time to put those foods together in an eating plan.
Because this is a longer than usual chapter… I am posting over two segments this week and next.
Creating Your Own Plan
So now it is your turn.
I hate bathroom scales with a vengeance. They can sabotage a healthy eating programme as quick as anything. They are not always reliable, if old, the measurements are off and if you do not lose weight one week you can get demoralised and give up.
I suggest that you find a chemist or other outlet that has accurate scales and visit every two weeks – same day and time if you can – on the way to work perhaps.
I try to find one that does not shout the results across the shop floor!
Some of these also have a blood pressure cuff so another measurement to check on a regular basis. Do still have your BP taken officially along with your LDL cholesterol levels and Blood Sugar with your doctor or the pharmacy after 6–8 weeks.
To be honest, I find using a different method to measure progress can be more motivating.
- One is to take a photograph, full length of you today and stick it somewhere you see it every day.
- In 6 weeks time having been following your new regimen of natural unprocessed foods and got into an increased activity programme, take another and compare them.
- I think you will be pleasantly surprised, especially if you wear the same clothes you did in the first photograph.. They should feel a lot looser and it will show.
Another option is to find an item of clothing that is a size too small and every week on the same day try it on.
- Keep going until you fit into it. Be realistic.
- If you are a size 20, don’t think that you are going to be in a size 10 in six weeks.
- Start with a size 18 and then a size smaller every four to six weeks should be about the right time scale.
A note here, unfortunately, we women lose weight from the top down usually. One of the reasons being is that we have different hips and thighs to men. We bear children and the fat in those regions would be used to nourish the baby when we are pregnant. So perhaps an idea would be to find a top of some kind or jacket to compare sizing for the first few weeks.
Determine your frame size and decide what weight you need to be by using the BMR calculator and the addition of normal activity and exercise per day. If you missed that post here is the link How much should you weigh?
Remember: It is not healthy to lose masses of body weight too quickly.
- You start to lose muscle instead of fat and that is not good in the long term.
- When you lose muscle and then come off your diet, you don’t have the necessary muscle to burn fat, any excess beyond what your body uses up each day will be popped into the fat cells for safe-keeping.
- That is why when you eat too few calories on a ‘crash’ diet, you put on even more weight than you started with.
Having said that, if you are steadily increasing your activity level, you can sustain a healthy loss of 2–3 lbs (1–1.5 kg) a week, because you are building muscle as you lose the fat.
Most one-dimensional diets work on the assumption that you walk three times a week for 20 minutes. This is hardly enough time to get out of breath! If you are walking for an hour every day, you will be achieving seven times that amount of exercise and will soon see the benefit in additional weight loss and toning.
The weight loss will always be quicker at first, but, if you average it out over a 20–week period, it usually works out to 2.5 lbs (1 kg) per week. You do not need to do the entire hour at once. Intensive and brisk walking for 20 minutes, three times a day can actually be more effective. Also, you are more likely to sustain the level of exercise in smaller segments. For me, I find that if I listen to rock music it keeps me at a good pace although does solicit some odd looks from passers by.
As always, especially if you are very overweight, you should not launch into an aggressive exercise program without first talking to your medical adviser.
Without the use of technical equipment, and complex calculations, it is generally difficult to calculate an individual’s calorific usage during an hour of exercise. To keep it simple, I have listed only a few exercises and divided them into two main groups: Moderate and Heavy (I will cover excercise in more detail in a later post).
Walking, cycling and swimming. These use approximately 300 calories an hour. You should then add 10 calories for every 14 lbs (6.5 kg) you are overweight.
Aerobics, mountain biking, running, and football. These use approximately 500 calories an hour. Here you need to add 20 calories for every 14 lbs (6.5 kg) you are overweight.
• Weigh yourself.
• Determine your frame size.
• Decide on your ideal weight.
• Calculate the weight loss required to achieve this weight.
• Determine the amount of calories you need each day to provide basic nutrition – BMR – then add in basic daily activity and exercise.
• Without going below your BMR – around the 1500 calories for a woman and 1800 for a man – design your healthy eating programme to provide a 500 to 750 calorie deficit per day to achieve 1–2 lbs weight loss per week.
Toning muscle can result in less weightloss.
It is worth noting that some weeks you may lose less than in others. As you increase your activity level, you will be toning up and this will create more muscle. Muscle weighs more than fat and so you may find that you have lost inches instead of pounds. However, in my experience, it usually seems to average out to about 2–2.5 lbs (0.9–1.1 kg) per week. Think long term, and do not become too obsessed with the day-to-day loss of weight.
I suggest that you keep a journal as I did.. I would list my food intake for the day in detail, plus fluids and the exercise. I weighed myself every Monday morning and made a record of weight lost, gained or stayed the same. If there was gain or I had stayed the same weight, I would take a look at the food and see is anything had slipped in or if I had been doing less exercise.
How much fat should I eat each day?
At this point I think it is important to remember that our bodies have been evolving for a very long time – in a hundred thousand years our DNA will only have altered about ten times – I have said before that the body does not react to sudden changes very well! However, in the last 300 years and particularly the last 150 years since the industrial revolution we have thrown some curve balls at our bodies.
Processed foods with manufactured artificial ingredients is just one area where our nutritional needs are not being met – one of the others, which is the real demon in our diet, is refined sugars – addictive – available from birth to grave, within hand’s reach in shops, in our own fridges and store cupboards – and laboratory constructed fats to extend the sell-by-date on ready meals and other processed foods in our daily diet. No wonder our bodies are in melt-down with increased health issues that lead to Heart disease, Cancers and Dementia.
But back to fats …
We must not cut fats out of our diet – they have an essential role to play in our health and without fats and cholesterol our bodies will be open to infections, poor function in areas such as the brain, heart, reproductive system and our eyesight. I use the 80/20 rule with my diet because I have to be watch my weight – 20% of my diet comprises healthy fats – sometimes I will have more because I am out for a meal etc. but basically my everyday diet comprises mainly seasonal vegetables and fruit, whole grain rice, fish, chicken, red meat once a week, eggs, moderate dairy.
No one person’s diet is the same and you have to find the perfect balance for you and this includes your fat intake – as long as it is not harmful fats.
Briefly, a quick look at the fats you are likely to encounter in your daily diet:
• One fat to avoid all together is not naturally occurring at all and that is manufactured ‘Trans Fats” Liquid oil is hydrogenated to extend its shelf life but in the process Trans fatty acids are formed – found in most processed foods including margarines and snacks such as microwave popcorn, biscuits, cakes, packaged puddings etc.
• The other fat type, which in large quantities is not helpful in maintaining cholesterol levels, is saturated fat – if there is too much in your diet it will raise your total Cholesterol as well as the LDL (low density lipoprotein which is smaller and clumps in arteries, and I call it Lousy Cholesterol). Mainly found in animal products but also some seafood. However, provided you are not eating the rich fat around a steak or roast every day, or eating a block of cheese three times a week, or a pound of butter on your spuds, you can enjoy what is very tasty component of your diet in moderation.
Personally I would rather have a small amount of real grass fed dairy butter with all its nutritional value, than a large dollop of low fat chemically processed glop……
Cholesterol is an essential element of many of the chemical reactions in the body including our brain health and our hormones. Dropping it too low can have an impact on our long-term health.
• The fats classified as healthy fats are Monounsaturated fats – which lower total cholesterol and at the same time lower LDL and increase HDL (High Density Lipoprotein and which I call Healthy Cholesterol) – this is contained in nuts, like walnuts and olive oil.
• Polyunsaturated fats also lower total cholesterol and LDL and these are found in salmon, soya, sunflower oils etc and have a very important component Omega-3 fatty acids. These can not only reduce your LDL and support HDL but are also very helpful in reducing blood pressure and the risk of developing blood clots. Even with people who have already suffered a heart attack including Omega-3 fatty acids in their diet reduces their risk of a fatal attack.
We love fish and it is very easy to include oily fish at least three times a week. Some of the best for Omega-3 fatty acids are salmon, halibut, mackerel, sardines and Albacore Tuna.
At this point a word about cooking your healthy meals – Olive oil is great but not so good when heated to a really high temperature to cook your steak or fish. It should be Extra Virgin Olive oil so that it has not been over processed – do not be tempted to use the light versions!
Use to drizzle over your meat, fish, vegetables, jacket potato etc after cooking – steam bake your food – if you are eating steak put in the oven in a pan with a grid so that the excess fat drains off – if you fancy a little butter on your vegetables, why not – great taste.
A little more info on Olive Oil – great stuff – potent mix of anti-oxidants that can lower the LDL but leave the HDL untouched – obviously if you are overweight it does have a high fat and calorie count but much better to use the Extra Virgin version and get the health benefits than use the diet alternatives.
I also use coconut oil for cooking and I have the liquid oil as a dressing, it is organic and has no additives and mixed with a little balsamic vinegar makes a delicious addition to salads.
The greatest gift you can give you body and its cholesterol is to avoid eating processed store bought cakes, biscuits, crackers some cheap breads, pasta dishes etc. If you make your own from scratch using butter and eat occasionally you will get a better tasting and healthier alternative.
To summarise – do not take fats out of your diet – use unprocessed, natural ingredients in your cooking, use fats and oils in moderation, eat plenty of vegetables, seasonal fruits, whole grains, dairy and eggs.
©sally cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2022
Next time part two of this stage of your weight loss with a check on portion sizes.
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.