Smorgasbord Health Column – Size Matters – The Sequel – #Weightloss – Before you Get Started – Managing People, Environment and your own expectations


Last week I explored where our willpower comes from and the childhood influences that impact our abiity to lose weight.

You can find that chapter and all the previous ones in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/size-matters-the-sequel/

Before you Get Started – Managing People, Environment and your expectations

I have learned a lot about myself over the last twenty-four years and hope that by sharing some of my experiences in this series, you will be able to bypass some of my early struggles in your efforts to lose weight.

Know who you are

We may think we know who we are, but I remember just how confused I was when I started out on this process. Over the years I had become many things to many people and behaved differently, or was expected to behave differently, with each and every one of them.

I was a daughter, sister, friend, lover, wife, employee, employer, niece, cousin and counsellor, and this is the same for everybody; it is a bit like having a multiple personality disorder. I was constantly trying to please everybody else but myself, always striving to fulfil their idea of who I should be.

Be prepared for some surprising reactions from the people around you when you start on your program. You are going to be making some major changes to your appearance, and some people will find that threatening. Changing from a plump, motherly, comfortable, predictable sort of person to a slim, sexy, confident and slightly surprising ‘new you’ can make the people you love uncomfortable. Most people are wary of change and, if their perception of your role in their life does not fit with your new image, a certain amount of emotional upheaval may ensue.

The last thing you want at this point is to feel tempted to hit the comfort food. So, as soon as you hear things like ‘Don’t lose too much weight; you will look gaunt’ or ‘You are beginning to look ill’ or ‘I liked you the way you were’, you will need to sit down and discuss your reasons for losing weight.

Husbands, especially, can feel a bit threatened if their wife and the mother of their children goes from being their ideal picture of how a mother should look to a slim and perhaps sexier looking woman, who is now getting compliments, particular from the opposite sex. Some men are delighted to have back the woman they married, but others may need some extra attention and reassurance that the changes you are making will benefit both of you.

Mothers can always be relied on to pass comment on any changes you make to your weight, up or down. You are her baby at any age and she will interfere whether you want it or not. Mothers will spend all their time telling you to lose weight and then when you do, they will tell you to eat properly, don’t starve yourself and have another cake. ‘One more won’t do you any harm’. They are natural worriers, so just accept that and try to work with it. Involve them wherever possible, and, who knows, you may just change some of their habits of a lifetime.

At this time you will also discover who your real friends are. There are those who loved to stand next to you when you were fat because you made them feel good about themselves. Start looking better than they do and suddenly they will be telling you that weight loss does not suit you, and your face looked much better with a little more padding. However, your true friends will be delighted for you. Do not pay any attention to those people who want to deflect you from your goal. Respect their feelings and involve them if possible, but do not let them make you go back to a place you hated.

Inside of all of us is a child who is still afraid of the unknown, but the unknown can also be exciting, an adventure of discovery, and, with this program, the only thing you are going to lose is weight. If you manage the changes within yourself and in the people around you, it will be immensely rewarding.

Being true to yourself is your greatest strength and you are going to need that to see you through the next few months.

The art to exercising your willpower

In the last chapter I explored how our willpower develops over the years and now you will need to exercise your willpower to the best of your ability, but avoid temptation like the plague in the first few weeks of the program. Do not have open boxes of chocolates within reach. Tell friends and loved ones that the only acceptable gifts are non-edible ones. However, do not stay at home and cut yourself off from everyone and everything. You will have to learn to live with this program for the rest of your life, and it important that you still have some pleasure and do not end up feeling deprived.

Tough as it may be, there are times when you have to remember that you are an adult with a serious health issue, and you are not two years old and zero decision making skills!

Learn how to go out for dinner or to a party. Learn to say NO THANKYOU graciously, so that you do not give offence (‘That was delicious but I really don’t have room for a second portion’). You can start making choices about what you put into your own mouth. Do not be afraid of offending chefs; after all, you are the customer.

It does not matter if people know you are on a diet. If necessary, tell them you are on a healthy eating program, not a diet, which is quite true. However, if people see that you are overweight and making an effort to lose the extra pounds, they will most likely respect you. Most people admire willpower. So enjoy yourself, and you will soon discover that you can have just as much fun eating healthily as unhealthily, and the bonus is that you will not feel guilty. Guilt was always a bitter sauce for me whenever I went out for a meal, but I do not have to feel like that any longer. So practice, practice, practice your willpower.

On a bad day

I would be lying if I said that losing weight is going to be all plain sailing, with no hurdles and no pain. You will have bad days. Sometimes you will have worked very hard and not lost a single pound in the week. This does happen; your body is not a machine and is subject to hormonal changes, water retention and various other internal and external stimuli. There will be times when you body will pause and take stock of the changes to your body, but if you eat sufficiently nutritional dense foods consistently and adequate foods, it will pick up the pace again.

Re-read your list of reasons for losing weight in the first place. Get together with a friend who understands. I often give myself a good talking to, treating myself as if I was a client who is going through a difficult phase. Rest assured; you will come out the other side. You will continue to lose weight and you will not slip back into your old habits.

Keeping motivated as the weight comes off

There have been times when I thought I had done enough. When I had lost 56 lbs. (4 st, 25 kg), my nosebleeds stopped and my blood pressure was down, as was my cholesterol. I was walking an hour a day and, although I was still a size 26, I felt and looked a great deal better. This was a dangerous time because it was easy to convince myself that I had worked hard and that it would be unrealistic to expect to continue losing weight.

Clearly it would not have taken much to push me back into my old eating habits. However, I was still 98 lbs. (7 st, 45 kg) overweight and I had made a commitment to myself that I would see this thing through. I still could not do half the things on my wish list and I was not as healthy as I wanted to be.

Every time you reach one of your goals, you must re-focus. Be proud of what you have achieved. Reward yourself as promised; then look towards the next goal. Try not to be too ambitious. I used to focus on 10 lbs. (4.5 kg) at a time, now it is 3 lbs. (1.5 kg) at a time.

It can be very hard to get back into the program after a night out, or a good holiday, or Christmas. This is the time to sit down and look at what you were, what you are now and what you are going to be in the near future. Do not throw it all away for the sake of that chocolate bar.

Visualising and our Language

When I am out walking, I often spend time thinking about the new me. This is not selfish or obsessional; it makes perfect sense. When our body is undergoing major changes, we need to prepare for each one before it happens. Not only did I visualise myself at my target weight, but I also thought about how I would look and feel along the way.

Our personal language can be very important. Instead of the word ‘if’, I would use ‘when’. For example: When I have lost another 10 lbs. (4.5 kg), I will be a size 20 and I will be able to travel on a cheap airline with small seats. Some ambition!

However, this strategy enabled me to break down the overall target into manageable pieces, giving me the opportunity to imagine my body changing over a period of time. I got used to this image and I liked it.

Having said that, I was morbidly obese for such a long time, that I still sometimes experience a shock when I see myself reflected in a shop window, or when I try on a new item of clothing and it fits. Because you look at yourself every day in the mirror, you do not always see the dramatic transformation that would be very obvious to someone who sees you infrequently. I still get a kick out of people’s reactions when they meet me for the first time in years. There is nothing quite like being ignored because someone doesn’t recognise you!

It is always useful to have an important event as a target. This is not to say that I believe you should go on the program just to lose some weight before a wedding. However, I remember knowing that I was going to be at an industry dinner one year, where I had not seen anyone from my former workplace for over twelve months. I had lost about 84 lbs. (6 st, 38 kg). When I walked into the room, I felt a million dollars, and the compliments I received all evening more than compensated for the hard work I had put in. Do not deny yourself a little grandstanding from time to time. Your morale and self-esteem can use the boost and it will help you reach your next target. Be careful not to get carried away by all the compliments and think the job is finished if you know you still have some way to go.

How long will it take?

You may have a long job ahead. It is not just going to happen overnight. However, trust that the project will be completed according to schedule and celebrate each measuring point as you reach it. The goal is a healthy, slimmer individual who will have succeeded at one of the most difficult tasks we can undertake. Losing weight and then keeping it off is an amazing achievement and one to be proud of. I hope that this program will guide and support you through the process, because the rewards are so worthwhile.

Remember, it has taken you a lifetime to get to where you are now, so it is surely not asking too much to spend a few months, or even a year or two, putting things right. I can promise you that although there will be difficult times ahead, the excitement, rewards and satisfaction you will feel along the way will be incentive enough.

Losing weight in the first few weeks will be faster as you lose fluid as well as some fat, but then it will settle down to 2lbs to 3lbs a week. Whilst that may seem very slow, it gives you body time to adjust, you won’t be eating your own muscle and you are less likely to suffer from excessive lose skin. I will cover that in more detail later in the series.

Remember that 2lbs a week is 104lbs (7.5 stone or 50.6kilos) That is a very reasonable amount to lose.

Enjoying the party

One of the most embarrassing questions you will be asked as you lose weight will be ‘Are you on a diet?’ You may feel that whenever you decline food or drink, your hosts and the other guests want to talk about it. My response always used to be to joke about it. Now I tell the simple truth and say that I am following a healthier lifestyle. Unless asked specifically, I do not discuss weight loss. I do, however, talk about my new healthy eating lifestyle, and how much fun I am having.

There are a couple of tips to help you relax and enjoy yourself, while also deterring people from commenting on your eating and drinking habits. At the beginning of a party when food is laid out, get yourself a large plate and put one of everything on the plate. Take it away, nibble from the plate during the evening and make sure you do not go back to the table. If you do not do this, you can lose count of what you have eaten (was that two or three sausage rolls?). This way you get to have a little of everything, people will not comment on your ‘diet’ and you will not be tempted to overdo it. As for alcohol, alternate your wine with a soft drink. Or offer to drive.

Whatever you do, enjoy yourself. Life is too short to miss out on meeting exciting people and trying your new social skills.

Losing weight is not a sprint, it is a marathon and your mental and emotional attitude towards the project is a key factor in your successful weight loss.

Over the last few weeks I have looked at the factors that have led to you being overweight. It might be 10lbs or 100lbs but whatever the amount, it did not magically appear. There might be emotional, physical and mental issues that needed to be addressed such as low self-esteem, yo-yo dieting in the past or illnesses that impacted your body’s ability to maintain a healthy weight. I have also looked at foods from our body’s perspective. What it needs to be fit and healthy. Ways to identify what emotional factor has made eating certain foods so important to you.

Now is the time to put all of that preparation into practice.Over the next couple of weeks I will be introducing you to more strategies and to the tools that will enable you to manage this extremely important project. There will be high points and days when you wonder why you bothered but overall as with any marathon if you keep walking and running, you will reach the finish line.

With any project there needs to be a clear timeline with specific goals that need to be achieved. This will not be accomplished if you are half-hearted about the need to get to the finish line. There is no need to be obsessive but being organised will help.

©sally cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2019

A little bit about me nutritionally.

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with over twenty 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 by health books and fiction you can find them here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2018/

 Thanks for dropping in today and if you have any questions please use the comments or if your prefer you are more than welcome to email me on Sally.cronin@moyhill.com

I am joining a growing number of our blogging friends on MeWe and I invite you take a look… a different approach to users.  mewe.com/i/sallycronin

You can find the previous posts in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/size-matters-the-sequel/

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Smorgasbord Health 2017 – Before you begin that crash diet in the New Year!


Smorgasbord Health 2017

I will be repeating my weight reduction programme again in 2017. The programme is designed around your body’s needs rather than your desire to get into a size or two smaller. From a nutritional perspective it is vital that when you are removing unwanted weight that you still provide your body with the nutrients that are essential for health.

However before you make plans to buy the latest wonder diet products you might like to read this first.  You can reduce weight healthily and safely and a great deal cheaper by cooking from scratch and by taking moderate exercise.

The “diet industry” is worth billions of pounds/dollars a year. The body is 100,000 years old or so – yet it is only really in the last 50 years that we have been told by experts that we have been doing it all wrong for the last 99,950 of them. Foods that provided us with nutrients during that lengthy period that are easily processed by the body are dismissed as “bad”. Well, there you go. For most of my adult life I believed the marketing – and certainly contributed to those billions – however this is where it got me!  One of my ‘before’ photos from 22 years ago.

sally at over 24 stoneHere I am, 22 years ago at 42 years old.

I was 24 stone and I had just made a rare but desperate visit to a GP (usually they just told me to go away and lose weight) who had laid it on the line for me. BP – so high it was causing headaches and nosebleeds – Total Cholesterol levels off the chart and very high blood sugar levels. He had told me that I would be very lucky, even with medication to reach 45, if I did not get my weight under control.

You will obviously have gathered that I am still here, 64 years old, not a supermodel but I am fit and healthy with more importantly a different perspective about health and more respect for my body. I orginally lost 11 stone over two years… I am not quite so slim now but getting our new dog in the spring will fix that.  Here is one of my ‘after‘ photos…..

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This does not mean that for the last 22 years I have existed on a lettuce leaf and a couple of tomatoes a day. In fact despite the trend at the time for low fat and high carbohydrate diet options I went the other way entirely and have always consumed good fats every day. This includes real butter and full fat milk. Also, the prevailing ‘expert’ opinion that grains are now not as health as once believed is one that I do not prescribe too. What I do however exclude from my diet at least 80% of the time is ‘Industrial Food’.

The term processed food is too hackneyed and actually some of the natural products we consume have gone through some form of processing before we consume them. Milk and cheese are two prime examples. But ‘Industrial Foods’ have been manufactured with the inclusion of artificially engineered ingredients. Whilst we have become obsessed with GMO foods the manufacturers are sighing with relieve in the background as their chemical concoctions continue to contaminate the food chain.

As we eat more Industrial foods that are made from artificial ingredients we move further away from our body’s natural diet that it is programmed to process. The results are obesity and lifestyle related disease.

Weight Reduction.

If you are now expecting me to give you the “Quick Fix” then I am sorry – I cannot oblige. Taking my own experience into account, and those of the hundreds of clients I have worked with, the process of regaining health is not just a question of popping some pills, doing a quick 30 minutes on a treadmill a day, having a protein drink for lunch and starving yourself a couple of days a week. (Before I give some readers who take supplements or supply them raised BP – let me clarify that certain nutritional support is necessary from time to time and provided they are high quality and used only as part of a balanced food diet, they can be beneficial.)

Believe me I have tried every diet and “wonder pill” under the sun and I certainly lost weight at the beginning but it was very evident that when I stopped “starving” my body it repaid me by putting the weight back on with a stone or two for good measure. Hence getting to 24 stone, 336lbs or 153kilos.

A rude awakening and a turning point for me. I decided that I had better find a way to change my prognosis. In 1995 I began to study nutrition and also dived into medical books. I had started what was to be a fascinating journey. After I had lost my 11 stone over 24 months, I studied for a diploma in nutritional therapy which covered the basics. I then took my own experience and knowledge out to other people, running a dietary advisory centre and health food shop in Ireland for a number of years and then in the UK and online. I have also written books, articles, magazine columns, radio programmes and now blogs on the subject and I will work until my dying breath (hopefully another 30 years or so) to get my message out.

That message is that there are just three things you need to lose weight successfully.

YOURSELF (physically, mentally and emotionally)

SUPPORT TEAM (loving family and friends)

THE FRESH PRODUCE AISLES OF YOUR LOCAL SUPERMARKET.

On my blog you will find many health posts. I have covered how to reduce BP, unhealthy cholesterol and Blood Sugar – tackle Candida which is highly prevalent in overweight men and women. I have encouraged the consumption of fats in healthy variations and I have demonised the sugar in our modern lifestyle that is one of the main contributors to our current obesity problems. I have also covered exercise and music – foods to improve brain function and produce the feel good factor.

In the first few weeks of 2017 I will be updating and posting my weight reduction programme that I have guided my clients through over the last 19 years. I hope that you will find it useful and that it helps you reach a realistic and healthy weight reduction safely and enjoyably.

Finally today I want to give you an insight into what being morbidly obese meant to me and how this threat looms over modern society.

The Perfect Storm.

When I went to see the doctor and got the true numbers about my weight and what I call the key indicators of BP, Cholesterol and Blood Sugar – I was at the epicentre of my own perfect storm. A storm that I had brought upon myself by creating anomalies within my body, physically, mentally and emotionally. I had also gone through external events that caused turmoil adding to the pressure building up inside me and that is why I use this analogy to explain the triggers that cause this turbulence in our lives.

When I say that I was at the epicentre of the storm, I do not mean the eye of the storm but the vortex – it was a drain that was about to suck me in and I would be gone for good.

Dragging myself back from the edge of that vortex and getting to safety was the hardest but most satisfying journey of my life, one I continue today. Unfortunately, complacency and sometimes outside events start to pull you in again towards the centre of the storm and this happened to me a few years ago.

My mother was in her 90’s and I spent much of the last three years of her life with her. Suffice to say being away from my own home and my husband until the last year when he joined us to support me, were stress triggers. I started to put the weight back on again and I had to really fight hard to pull myself back physically as well as mentally. It was not my mother’s fault and I am so pleased that her last months were in her own home with the rest of my family there and a very peaceful end. However, in the following months and then being back at our home in Madrid full time from 2013, I reduced the weight by simply eating well and getting regular exercise.

2016 has been a rollercoaster and with house and country move and living for the first few months in someone else’s home it was easy to see that my weight was fluctuating again. I have my own work to do in the New Year and I know how much focus and commitment it requires.

I tell you this so that you understand that even with all my experience, my knowledge of nutrition and how my mind and body works; I still have to keep my eye on the ball.

Global obesity.

This perfect story analogy also applies globally. Our health services are already in overwhelm and the future is looking bleak. The rising obesity epidemic with its attendant health problems such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes is like a perfect storm waiting offshore ready to hit land at any time.

I believe that our own NHS has given up on getting the majority of us to change our lifestyles – there are little projects in place that affect a few hundred or thousand people but if you read the headlines there is obviously a mad rush to find a pill that will cure everything from Heart disease to Alzheimer’s all for 5p. Recently it was Statins for everyone over 50 – to prevent future heart disease and dementia. (Statins lower cholesterol – supposed to be just LDL – the problem cholesterol – but total cholesterol also is lowered. We need the substance to produce our hormones, protect the brain and our eyesight amongst other essential processes- so if you are 50+ and have a healthy cholesterol level – what exactly is this pill going to do for you!)

Pills for life all have side effects, albeit possibly smaller ones that are cheaper to treat than the major diseases! They are not the answer. Getting people to accept responsibility for what they put in their mouths is however and that is going to take a tough line. Not sure we have anyone in charge of our health care who can take the gloves off and get enough control to turn this around.

This is a shame, as we have one of the best health services in the world, with dedicated healers at all levels. Trouble is they will be so busy dealing with the aftermath of the perfect storm that has already begun to hit land, to deal with those medical and health emergencies that are beyond our individual control.

Hopefully, if you are overweight, I have given you something to think about. Whether you need to lose a stone or 10 stone I hope you will find this series of help.  I understand that you might have questions and if they might benefit everyone then please use the comments section.  If you would like to ask a question privately then please contact me on sally(dot)cronin(at)moyhill.com and I am very happy to help in anyway that I can without charge of course.

The next post on Monday 2nd of January – Most people will say ‘I need to lose weight’. However very few know exactly how much they should lose to be healthy. That is important as with any project, you need to know where you are today and where you should be in a specific time frame. On Monday I will show you how to work out how much you should weight for your height, age and gender and you will be pleased to hear that it does not mean being as thin as a whippet!

In the menu in the heading you will find several directories on health issues and if you are suffereing from high blood pressure, Candida or your cholesterol is out of balance you might like to take a look at those.