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.
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.
The Accumulative Factor of food and life.
The majority of the diets that I attempted in my adult life were one-dimensional. By this I mean that the diet generally gave the dieter a list of foods to eat and the ‘right’ amount of calories, regardless of age, sex or level of activity. Little effort was spent in analysing the reasons for the obesity.
Having been repeatedly unsuccessful in my previous attempts at dieting, it was obvious that I needed a new approach, to ensure that this would be the last time I would put my body – and mind – through such intense stress.
So, I decided to approach the weight loss from a completely different perspective and from as many angles as possible. This new concept meant looking at the mental, physical and emotional reasons for the weight gain in the first place: a three-dimensional approach.
Obesity is the symptom, but the root causes are not generally immediately apparent. In fact, there are a number of different factors which play a part.
It is 11.30 p.m. at night. I am pacing the floor of our lounge, car keys clenched in my fist. Since 6 p.m. I have eaten a large dish of spaghetti, three chocolate bars, a tub of ice cream and the re-heated remains of a take-away from the night before. There is nothing left in the refrigerator or cupboards. I am desperate for something more to eat – something sweet.
The garage down the road closes at midnight. If I can just hang on another ten minutes, it will be too late to get there before it shuts. Part of me is fighting to go, throw a coat over my pyjamas and take my last opportunity to get some chocolate before the morning. Another part of me is fighting to stay, to keep away from the very thing that is causing me so much misery – the misery of being this gross person that I felt I had become. How on earth had I come to this point in my life? How on earth was I going to learn to live through this?
Over the last 23 years I have walked thousands of miles, so there has been plenty of time for reflection. When I began keeping a journal, it was to record my personal journey of discovery and enlightenment. Some of the events and feelings that I am sharing with you are very personal, the kind we do not usually reveal to strangers. The reason for this openness is to illustrate that there is usually a lifetime of accumulated baggage that makes up the person we are today. Good times and bad times are recorded and stored and replayed time and again, a bit like a stuck record. In the process, we can get caught up in a ‘poor me’ state of mind, where we blame our past and those who inhabit it, for our present.
Without being too analytical, I have tried to identify some of the factors that may have contributed to my attitude to eating and my attitude to my body. I very soon came to the realisation that I was carrying too many layers, in more ways than one!
I am going to ask you to travel with me for the next few chapters and then complete your own journey. You need to establish where and when you might have unconsciously turned to food as an answer to your problems. Maybe you even developed a physical reason for your weight gain.
When you are looking for answers remember that you have to look inside yourself. You are the only person who knows what has really happened in your life. ‘Know thyself’ is a fundamental idea that has been around since the time of the ancient Greeks, and it important to remember this as you make your journey. Another famous saying is ‘You are what you eat’. Keep these two ideas in mind and they can help you to get to the root of the problem.
When I was working with clients and creating individual strategies that worked for them, I developed a tool that helped them understand food and how it impacts the body in a different way.The fat accumulation table shows the amount of calories consumed in a year of certain foods, the good, the bad and the ugly.
We might think that having two digestive biscuits everyday with our cup of tea is not going to make a difference to our weight, but if you check the figures above you will see that over a year that amounts to16lbs. Just by cutting back to one biscuit a day will halve that number. I love chocolate and when I was in my binge eating days I could consume at least two bars a day. That amounts to 112lbs over the year, considering that I needed to lose 150lbs back in 1995, giving up that little habit made a big difference!
I like using this accumulative approach, because I feel that it really reflects how life works to help us to gain weight a little at a time, so you don’t really see it happening. I wonder if you have noticed our little habit of eating two things at a time? Two pieces of toast for example, as if it is wasteful not to use the empty slot in the toaster. By the time you have added the butter and the other toppings you have just turned a snack into a light meal.
It is not just food that accumulates over time.
Everyday events, concerns, stress and worries also accumulate over time. Much like a snowball rolling down a hillside, we collect ‘layers’ which slow us down until we come to a stop at the bottom, pretty to look at, maybe, but it is impossible to tell what debris has been collected, along with the fresh layers of snow, during the journey.
Of course, not every layer that you add will be harmful. For most of us there is a combination of happy and unhappy events in our lives… unfortunately for some the balance is uneven and they seem to be the recipients of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
Whilst there have been moments in my own life when I thought that I would never be able to rise above the challenge, I was very lucky in so many other aspects. It was an interesting and worthwhile process exploring 40 plus years of events and decision making that had resulted in morbid obesity. There is a dark side to life and to us as individuals. A side that we rarely share with others and is usually self-destructive.
Some people live in a world of balance. Others tend to live at the extremes of their abilities and senses. Extremes are important to an addict, and an addict is what I had become. I had developed an addiction to food, particularly to sugars, that was extreme compared to any normal consumption. Later, I will come back, in much more detail to the vital impact of sugars and how they can affect us and the way that we develop our eating habits.
This is a record of my journey back to my past from a mental, physical and emotional point of view. It is not my intention to bare my soul of all my past traumas, as they are way behind me now. As with many people I do carry scars, but I chose to use my experiences to foster strength not weakness. I had clearly allowed some events to define me, and that was not a successful strategy.
In my role as a nutritional therapist I found myself listening to very similar stories from clients who were not just obese, but dangerously so. The answer did not only lie in creating an eating programme that changed a lifetime of poor nutrition, but in identifying the mental and emotional reasons why food had become so important.
©sally cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2022
Next time…the impact of change and stress
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.
You can buy my books from: Amazon US – and: Amazon UK – Follow me :Goodreads – Twitter: @sgc58 – Facebook: Sally Cronin – LinkedIn: Sally Cronin