The purpose behind the serialisation of Just an Odd Job Girl – your opinion would be valued.


I decided to serialise Just an Odd Job Girl for a couple of reasons. When I wrote the book in 2001 it was because friends felt it would make a good screenplay. As you all know things happen and life tends to get its own way, and with one thing and another, the project was put on the back burner.

Two years ago we formatted for Eversions and whilst those have sold copies; I wanted more direct feedback.Reviews are the icing on the cake, but you have to amass a great many to get a consensus on a book.  By serialising the book here on the blog I have been able to obtain a wider spread of opinions.

It has been very valuable to get the feedback from an audience of fellow writers and bloggers and I am so pleased that Imogen’s exploits are being enjoyed. Over the next three weeks or so the book will be finished; but I would like to ask a favour of those of you who have been following all the chapters as they are posted.

Can you make a note of any chapter that stood out for you in particular and that you feel would make a great sample to turn into a script format to send to agents and production companies.

At the end of the serialisation I will post all the links to the chapters in one post and ask you to select your favourite.. Based on that feedback I will select the chapter to reformat.

I really do value the tremendous support and comments to date and would love to have you along for the ride to take this book to the next stage if possible.

If you have missed any chapters so far you can find them here.

Size Matters serialisation – Chapter 17 – Exercise


I have mentioned walking as a form of exercise, in Chapter seven, but there are many other effective forms of exercise. This chapter will cover the most common examples. There are also several everyday activities that we take for granted but which do qualify as exercise.

chased by predators

We are designed to move fast if we need to. Predators had to be taken seriously in the past, whether multi-legged or two-legged. We have a strong skeleton, with muscles and tendons holding it together. Our joints are flexible and can withstand considerable pressure. In this day and age, however, we have come to rely on mechanical means of transport, not only when we reach adulthood but as children too.

Thirty years ago, children walked to and from school every day, although they may have graduated to a bicycle as they got older. These days, children either use a school bus service or are driven to school in the family car. Physical education and team sports can still play a part in many children’s lives, but far too many take hardly any exercise at all. This, and unhealthy modern eating practices, means that obesity in children is on the increase in most western countries.

Exercise is not just about losing weight. There are many other benefits to us. The first is to our physical structure: the skeleton, joints, tendons and muscles. All these remain healthy if put to the purpose they were designed for. Without regular use, joints seize up, muscles waste away and fat accumulates, causing stress on the body. Without exercise, our skeleton is weakened and in later years this can lead to osteoporosis. Regular exercise improves the way the body functions generally. The immune system will work much more efficiently, making us less vulnerable to infection.

Progression of osteoporosis

                     Progression of osteoporosis

Aerobic exercise maintains the body’s capacity to utilise fuel and oxygen. This type of exercise not only burns fat, it can also lower blood-pressure and strengthen the heart, rendering it less susceptible to heart attacks or valve problems. The cardiovascular system needs exercise to keep it in good condition.

Combining aerobic work-outs with a stretching and toning program helps the joints to remain flexible and the muscles supple.

Weight-bearing activities such as walking, running and weight training ensure that the bones do not become thin as we grow older. They also tone the muscles and improve our posture, thus lessening our chances of suffering from age-related structural problems.

One of the major benefits of these forms of activity is the mental and emotional strength they foster. Most people experience a feeling of well-being about twenty minutes into a moderate work-out. This is a result of natural endorphins, which are mood-elevating substances, being released into the system. Sometimes it can be hard to find the motivation to go out on a wet, windy day, but, having done so; it is amazing how good you can feel half an hour later. People often comment on how a long, brisk walk reduces stress and tension.

Toning and exercising the body is a natural way to preserve and strengthen our entire system. We have only the one body, so we may as well get the best out of it. For years I was imprisoned in my body, with neither the knowledge nor the willpower to escape. I could barely walk for ten minutes before I started the program, yet today I have no problem walking two or three miles a day. I would be miserable without physical activity and I soon know when I have not done enough: my joints, which have been damaged by all the years of carrying the excess weight, stiffen and become more painful.

One fact that caught my attention recently is that, for every hour of moderate exercise, our life span can be increased by around two hours. I have made a decision to live to the age of a hundred and still be physically and mentally active. If I maintain my program of two hours a day of brisk walking in the winter months and three hours in the summer until I am ninety-five, I will have added five years to my life.

Some of the gentler forms of exercise such as Yoga and Tai Chi are great for those starting out but it is important to have a great teacher. Even these seemingly gentle movements can cause you joint problems if they have not been used for a long time!!


Aerobics are a good way to maintain fitness, but it is not a good idea to do such a strenuous work-out when you are severely overweight, because you can damage joints and muscles and put additional strain on the heart and other organs. Before joining an aerobics class, carry out some basic research. Begin with low-impact aerobics, guided by a qualified instructor, and watch the class for a session before participating yourself. Make sure there is an adequate warm-up and warm-down period and some stretching exercises are included in the program.

You may feel more confident if you work out at home first, perhaps using a video. I started by dancing to my favourite music in the kitchen. At the time I weighed over 250 lbs. (113 kg), but I took it slowly at first, a few minutes at a time, until I felt confident about joining a class. You will soon feel the benefits. Not only will you burn fat, but you will also improve your circulation and lung capacity; your muscles will be toned and your stamina will increase.

Do not be tempted to do aerobics every day. Two or three times a week, combined with other forms of exercise, will be more than adequate. Make sure that you wear the right footwear, providing adequate ankle support, and that your clothing is not too restrictive. Keep a bottle of water nearby and stop regularly to take a drink. For every hour of aerobic exercise, you will need an additional litre of water.


Another popular form of aerobics takes place in the water. Aquarobics is ideal for someone who is still too heavy for the dry land equivalent. The water cushions the joints and offers resistance to the muscles to make them work harder. Provided you feel comfortable in a bathing suit, you can begin this as soon as you like. Again, you do not have to complete a whole hour. If you feel you are getting too tired, stop and swim or relax for a short time and then resume. You will find that, over a period of weeks, your stamina, and ability to perform the various exercises, will improve and you may then think about joining a more conventional aerobics class.

Jogging and running

Jogging and running are classified as aerobics, with the additional benefit that you are out in the fresh air. Again this is an activity best done when you have reached a certain level of fitness. Do not push yourself too hard. Start by walking and then, when you can walk comfortably for an hour or more at a brisk pace, introduce some jogging. Walk a hundred paces and jog for the next fifty. After several days, increase the level of jogging until you are completing your usual distance in a shorter time. You must ensure that you are wearing the correct shoes. Normal walking shoes will not be suitable so investing in a pair of running shoes is essential. Make sure that your muscles are warmed up before you start to jog. Walk for the first fifteen minutes at a brisk pace and then change your stride.


Cycling can be a great pleasure, although this depends on having access to pleasant places to ride. Mountain bikes have become popular in recent years, enabling us to ride on more varied terrain than the roads, which can be dangerous. As with all these activities, you should take things easy to begin with. Plan short trips of about half an hour. Save the day trips until you have the necessary power and stamina. Wear a helmet and elbow and knee protection if you are on the road, and the bicycle should have adequate lighting if you are cycling after dark. Most gyms have a static cycle and the home version can also be effective, but they can be boring unless you can watch the television or listen to music at the same time. Cycling in the fresh air, safely, is the best form of this exercise.


Swimming can be monotonous unless you set yourself some realistic targets. You can be any weight when you start swimming. However, I found that embarrassment kept me out of the pool for a long time. I was self-conscious in a swimming suit, even when I was lucky enough to find one the right size. Usually the cup of the suit was huge and the bottom too tight. I will admit to being a coward on this one and it took me at least two years and a hundred pounds of weight loss before I ventured into the water. Once I did, however, I loved it. There is no stress on the body or the joints, and it tones everything.

Start with the objective of completing one lap without stopping and progress until you are completing as many as possible within a specific length of time. An hour is ideal.

Over the weeks you can either increase the number of laps to fill the time, or do the same number of laps in less time. No safety equipment is necessary, except for a swimming pool attendant – and strong shoulder straps!


Tennis is a game I have loved since I was a child. It is competitive and can be fast-paced so, once again, wait until you have reached a comfortable fitness level before trying it. It is easy to damage the knees and leg muscles if you overdo it, so go gently.

I began by hitting a ball off the house wall for a few minutes every day, in time progressing to half an hour. This gave me an opportunity to get used to the twisting and turning that is involved. You get an excellent upper-body work-out with tennis, but you can strain shoulder and elbow joints and your muscles. It is a good idea to take lessons at first, to ensure that you are using the correct and least damaging strokes. If you are returning to tennis, then start with doubles, progressing to singles after a few weeks. You don’t have to make Wimbledon in your first season!

Weight training

Weight training tones the muscles and burns off fat. There are some simple routines to begin with, which require no weights at all. Moving the arms and legs slowly and firmly provides some exercise. Begin with arm extensions to the side and the front, clenching the fist and slowly bringing it up and down. I moved from this to lifting tins of beans and have now graduated to a multi-gym, which I use for just ten minutes a day.

I was always worried about being left with too much loose skin if I lost weight. The walking, drinking water and aerobic exercise have all played their part in toning my skin and forming firm muscle, but doing repetitions using light weights (two to five pounds each) has added the finishing touches. It is better from a fat-burning and toning perspective to develop a routine using light to moderate weights many times. Lifting heavy weights without proper supervision can damage the back and other parts of the body. Take advice from a qualified instructor. A book may not tell you all you need to know for your particular fitness level and body type.

Household chores

Finally, we should not forget housework and its benefits as a form of exercise. An hour of active house-cleaning, gardening or cleaning the car will use up around 200 to 250 calories. This, and running up and down the stairs in a normal day, can provide you with an opportunity to work out every day – and it also keeps the home looking good too!

Whatever form of activity you choose, you must enjoy it in order to feel all the benefits. Do have an occasional rest day, when you simply take a gentle stroll in the fresh air. Too much intensive working-out can be counter-productive, since the body can become tired and possibly strained. If you have a lot of weight to lose, this obviously is not going to happen overnight. Give your body a chance to get used to the new level of activity and vary your routine so that you and the body continue to find it stimulating and beneficial the whole time.

For me, there is no substitute for the way I feel when I finish my exercise. I am restricted, to a degree, by previous injuries caused by too much strain at my heaviest weight. However, I am delighted to be able to walk, swim and do weight training.

©sallygeorginacronin Size Matters 2001-2015

Image mammoth

Previous 16 Chapters of Size Matters can be found here.

Size Matters – Serialisation – Chapter Five – The Emotional Factor

This week a look at the emotional factors in our lives which can hinder our approach to a healthy lifestyle.  It is extremely rare for people to have a perfect life. It is usually a balance of good and challenging learning experiences but some people have a dreadful start in life. This creates an uphill path that takes courage and also determination to overcome.

I was very lucky to have had a warm and loving family and many of the events that were damaging to my emotional health were self-inflicted.

There were physical triggers but it was also the emotional factors that I had failed to deal with that also created a barrier to me dealing with my eating and weight issues.


Chapter Five.. The Emotional Factor.

Fairy tales are a part of childhood. They are wonderful stories that leave a child spellbound. Real life, unfortunately, is not quite the same. Many people have experienced major emotional ups and downs since their early childhood and hearing their stories can make you count your own blessings.

My family always offered me love and stability. My two sisters did everything with me. Two of my stronger memories from my time in Ceylon are of my sister Diana taking me swimming and my sister Sonia making me smocked dresses with ‘knickers to match’. One of my party pieces was to flash these knickers whenever I was complimented on my dresses, a habit I thankfully soon grew out of.

Scan14a - S & D with baby Sally

My brother, who arrived when I was four, knocked me off my perch as the baby of the family and like any child of that age with a distinct lack of communication skills; I decided that acting up and being a pain would help divert attention back to me.

All in all, my early childhood brought travel and memorable experiences that I shared with the family. My teenage years were also normal, with boys coming and going and I suffered no serious damage to heart or ego.

sally wedding day 1980I was on the rebound from my first serious romance when I met my former husband. Only nineteen and ‘a woman of the world’, I was swept off my feet by this tall, dark and good-looking man who was six years older than me. We were engaged by the spring and married five months later in a lavish wedding with all the trimmings. The fairy tale was not to have a happy ending. The simple reason was that our love was not strong enough to overcome the differences between us or the challenges we faced during our five years together.

Relationships are about two people and it is two people who end up suffering in these situations. It was the most emotionally devastating time of my life and food certainly was my drug of choice.

For years I carried the pain and the sense of failure that invariably follow after a broken marriage, but ultimately I learned to move on. However, over the years, talking to many other people about their lives has helped me to see that nearly everyone has suffered from some form of emotional trauma in their life. Childhood abuse, broken marriages and miscarriages are far more common than we think. The mystery to me is that, if it is so common, why are we are not better prepared for it?

sally wedding day 1980

However, whilst not quite a fairy tale, my own story also has a happy ending. Life can be wonderful and I know that if I had not experienced the challenges in my first marriage I would not appreciate my second as much as I do. Taking lessons from disastrous experiences does put a positive spin on it.

The last thirty-five years have been great, but there have still been times when the two of us had to make an extra effort to maintain the strength of our relationship. David and I have lived and worked apart quite a lot. When we lived in two countries, only seeing each other once a month, it was particularly difficult, because we are not just husband and wife, we are friends too. I enjoy our conversations, going to the movies together and sharing a weird sense of humour.

I would be lying if I said that we had a perfect marriage, but then I don’t believe that such a thing exists. Writers of romance novels and films have perpetuated the myth of the ideal marriage. I do believe, however, in a partnership where two people, often very different, can come together in a relationship founded on a strong friendship spiced with a healthy dash of passion and emotion. David and I are strong-minded people and like getting our own way, but we have a good marriage and I think that I would be bored stiff if it was all peaches and cream.

As a young woman, my expectations of marriage and life in general were seriously unrealistic. I believed that I would be swept off my feet, have lots of children and live happily ever after. I was emotionally immature and naïve and so had some tough lessons to learn. This is just part of the learning that we have to do as we grow up, and it has done me no real harm. Looking back over the years, I can see how I have evolved into the person I am today. I can also recognise when food played an active part in my emotions of the day, as much a reward as a consolation.

How many times did our parents tell us that, if we were good, we could have some sweets? If we were hurt, we were given chocolate to make the pain go away. We were told that, if we finished all our dinner, we could have pudding. Do you hate cabbage and love biscuits? We were told that there were starving children in Africa and we must never waste the food on our plate. How many of you today treat yourself to a bar of chocolate if you have been good, or had a hard day? It is truly remarkable how strong a link there is between how we feel and how and what we eat.

I have learned some positive lessons from my experiences and know that I will certainly learn more in time to come. Life is like that. Of course we must dream and plan for the future, but it is always wise to expect the unexpected, and to be strong enough to handle it when it comes. Encouragement, love and loyalty from those around us are far more useful than the ability to unwrap a chocolate bar. A support network of friends and family and the ability to build on our own strengths are vital elements in our personal development. It is amazing how different things look when we feel great and look good. It then becomes possible to turn some major dramas back into the minor soap-operas they really are.

Identifying the emotional highs and lows of my life enabled me to see that, when something went wrong, I turned to food as a source of comfort. I had now reached the point where I could see the need to develop more constructive behaviour and it became obvious that I required help in transforming the habits of a lifetime. I realised that it was necessary to translate the information I had gathered into a working program that was mentally, physically and emotionally balanced. To lose 150 lbs. (10 st 10 lbs., 68 kg) in a healthy way, over an extended period of time, was the challenge. The time for reminiscing was over and I was ready to do the work.

I studied and obtained nutritional therapy qualifications; researched health issues connected to lifestyle and diet and read every book or article I could get my hands on. I wanted to solve my own problem in the beginning but discovered that I could share this vital knowledge with others and help them take back control of their weight and health issues too. I applied all the management expertise I had gained over the previous twenty years to planning the project: I set myself some realistic and achievable objectives and applied good measurement procedures. I followed the principle that you are not really aiming to get to your goal if you do not measure where you are, on a regular basis, just to see if you are getting closer.

The next chapters outline the project plan that has taken me to where I am today. When you come to complete your own plan, much of the detailed work will have been done for you. With luck, the lessons I learnt the hard way will make it easier for you to tailor your own plan to achieve your target weight.

Some of the solutions that I first offered when I began writing this book 18 years ago were based on my theories at the time. Thankfully many of those theories have been backed up in recent years with scientific studies. They have also been verified by the results achieved by my clients putting those theories into practice. The good news is that I have now created some shortcuts for you that will make achieving your weight and health goals much easier.

All I ask is that you read the next chapters with an open mind. Complete the analysis part of the program before you actually try to lose weight. It is essential that you understand the reasons why you became overweight in the first place. This is a three-dimensional eating program, designed by you to achieve your target weight loss. I can illustrate here the solutions I used for my own success, but you will probably have to come up with one or two of your own. The more you put into this part of the exercise, the more you will own it. Ownership is very empowering and I promise that, once you begin to feel in control, you will not give up easily.

Previous chapters are here:-

©sallygeorginacronin Size Matters – 2001 – 2015

Would love to have your feedback and please feel free to share.

thanks Sally

Size Matters – serialisation – Chapter Four – Physical Triggers.

Chapter four of my book Size Matters that I began writing 20 years ago and first published in 2001. The journey that I embarked on at 42 years old was very tough at times. I had to recognise my own behaviour and responsibility in achieving this hugely successful weight gain and I also had to relive certain painful times in my life. I did at least get some comfort from the fact that there were some external factors at play that could shoulder some of the blame.

My reason for writing this book was to spread the message about obesity and how you can change your health by adopting a different approach to eating. So I would be grateful if you would share.


Physical Triggers.

Looking for physical significance in the pattern of weight loss and gain in my life has been a complicated process. The first step was to look at all the times when I was overweight and see if there was in fact a physical or emotional trigger for that particular phase.

I have been overweight, in a significant way, at least five times in my life. Up to the age of eleven I seemed to have been tall and well built, but not particularly heavy. As I mentioned earlier, photographs, taken after this time, show that I had gained a considerable amount of weight over a relatively short period. I was looking for a physical trigger for this change, apart from the upheaval caused by moving to another country and another school?

To answer this, I have to fast-forward to when I was forty five and living in Ireland. I had worked really hard and managed to get my weight down to about 210 lbs. (15 st, 95 kg), but from that point on I seemed to hit a brick wall. I was walking for a couple of hours a day, I ate sensibly on a low-fat, moderate carbohydrate regime, but I could not seem to shed any more weight. Despite this, I was experiencing some disturbing symptoms that worried me sufficiently that I had blood test done to see if that would uncover the source of my problem. I was feeling very tired and I had watery and itchy eyes, my ears constantly felt irritated and I was having mild dizzy spells. I had also developed an overwhelming urge for sweet food and bread. Having spent three years learning to control the urge for chocolate and sweets, it was frustrating and a little frightening to be in this position. At that time, a new range of biscuits and cakes came on the market which were low in fat. I had being eating these for several weeks and it was not unusual for me to eat a packet a day. My weight started to creep up again and I became increasingly concerned that all my hard work was going to be for nothing.

The blood test showed that I was not suffering from diabetes. However, I still needed to find some answers. David got on the Internet and searched for some of the symptoms that I was experiencing. We got back some very interesting information, some of which could have been relevant to the problem. However, it was the data that we obtained on something called Candida Albicans that set alarm bells ringing. Later in the book there is more information on Candida, and a questionnaire that everyone who is overweight should complete.

Candida is a fungal infection of the intestine. There is a delicate balance of bacteria in our gut and it works very much like a waste-disposal unit. However, certain conditions can activate changes in the balance between healthy flora and this opportunistic fungus, and this can result in Candida taking control of the intestine. Candida is a yeast that thrives on sugar. Among the many symptoms of this condition is an irrational craving for sweet foods and bread, which of course contains both yeast and sugar.

The list of symptoms attributable to Candida seemed endless, but when I completed the questionnaire, my score was so high that there was no doubt at all that I was indeed suffering from an overgrowth in its most chronic form. While it was an enormous relief to have identified what had been causing my problems, it was devastating to realise that Candida had been a part of my life since childhood and was likely to be one of the main reasons for my weight problems.

You will not be surprised to learn that one of the prime causes for this condition is the use of antibiotics, and also some other medication prescribed for conditions such as asthma. Once I realised this, I put together a chart showing the periods in my life when I had experienced weight gain. Bingo! In every instance the weight gain followed heavy doses of antibiotics prescribed for a variety of reasons. In one way this discovery was reassuring. Overweight people often look for a physical problem to blame for their condition, such as their glands, so it was a revelation to learn that there might indeed be a physical reason for my excessive weight gain.

Tracking back through my history, I saw that until I reached the age of ten, I did not have a weight problem. When we lived in Cape Town I suddenly developed chronic tonsillitis and was sick every few weeks, until I had my tonsils removed. Each bout of tonsillitis was treated with antibiotics and, within a few months, I had gained 30 or 40 lbs. (14 to 18 kg). The photographs taken of me leaving Cape Town, and on the ship coming home, have always been a source of embarrassment to me, including the one of me in a bright yellow dress and red shoes which made me look like a little barrage balloon!

The weight slowly dropped away from me over the next few years. Photographs show me as chubby until I was about sixteen, when there was a marked change. Remember that it was the 1960s and we had some pretty skinny role models then, such as Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton. The mini-skirt was the ultimate fashion item of the day and podgy thighs looked horrendous in them.

I started skipping meals and hiding the fact from my parents. They naturally assumed that the money they gave me for my school lunch was being spent on just that, and not on cigarettes! My weekend and holiday job was working in a seaside café, where lunch was provided. This was always fish or sausage and chips, and I must admit to sampling the whipped ice cream from time to time – like every day! But hey! Someone has to carry out the quality checks!

The food we had at home was always filling and my father was partial to steamed duffs, as he called them. Made with suet and filled with either steak and kidney or treacle. Because it was assumed that we had school lunches, my brother and I would just have a tea during the week, but at the weekend it would be my father’s specialities.

My next phase of serious weight problems followed my miscarriage at age twenty one. This occurred quite late in the pregnancy and was very badly handled. In those days there was no counselling of any kind, which certainly did not help my emotional state. Once again though, it was the large doses of antibiotics which played havoc with my system. In the six months following the miscarriage I was on a self-prescribed course of chocolate and alcohol which did not help my weight in any way.

Between the ages of twenty one and twenty five, I gained and lost 30 to 50 lbs. (14 to 23 kg) continuously. My day revolved around shopping, cooking and eating. Nutrition was never a consideration. However, when I did decide to lose a bit of weight I would embark on the only diet that I believed worked. That was the one where you put no food in your mouth at all. A couple of glasses of wine and the hunger pangs went away. Not a healthy time from both a physical or emotional perspective. By the time my marriage broke up, I weighed about 200 lbs. (14 st 4 lbs., 91 kg).

Money was very tight over the next few years and, thankfully, certain food and drink items were no longer necessary, or indeed affordable, as an anaesthetic. I worked and lived in Sussex and in Wales, and meals were provided with my job. Hard work, eating very little, and smoking to stave off the hunger pangs, contributed to a substantial weight loss over the next three years.

sally wedding day 1980

I met David when I was twenty seven. I was at my lowest weight ever and thought I looked the bee’s knees. Unfortunately, as I realise now, I was not terribly fit. I repeatedly suffered from chest infections and thrush (Candida), and was put on several courses of antibiotics. I always had the feeling that I was just about to come down with an illness: colds, coughs, and any infection that was about. I now realise that for the two years before I met David, I was anorexic. Eating little more than 750 calories per day – and using rituals and very strict rules about any food that I did consume.

We married in November 1980. My eating habits improved and my exercise level increased, because I began helping out on the sheep farm where we were living. After about six months we moved to Liverpool and I started work in the city centre. We were saving for a house and working hard. There were little treats, however, which began to take their toll. Sunday morning breakfast in bed, for instance. Two rounds of bacon, tomato and mayonnaise sandwiches and a family packet of those tasty chocolates with the less fattening centres – that was just my portion!

After about a year I developed an abscess under a tooth. This was not unusual for me, because I had suffered several in the past, but on this occasion it nearly cost me my life. Since we were fairly broke, I attended the Liverpool Dental Hospital and was treated by senior students that ‘needed the practice’, which is not to imply that they were in any way at fault. However, as is normal practice, I was prescribed antibiotics. Eventually, after several weeks of root-canal treatment and medication, the dental students were not able to save the tooth and so had to extract it. The infection was so bad that I was given an injection of penicillin. We flew to Ireland that weekend for my brother-in-law’s wedding and I became ill and was rushed into hospital in Cork. We now know that not only had the infection spread throughout my entire system but I had developed a blood clot after the tooth extraction that had spread to my lung. So it was blood thinner and more antibiotics!

After this episode, my weight ballooned to over 220 lbs. (15 st 10 lbs., 100 kg) and I didn’t manage to lose any weight until we were living in Texas in 1986. We lived in the United States for two amazing years. While there, I led a healthy, active life, with a diet which consisted of lots of fish, salads and vegetables, and I was not sick once. By the time we returned to England in 1987, I weighed about 180 lbs. (12 st 12 lbs., 82 kg), which was not hugely overweight, given my height. Encouraged by the fact that 40 lbs. (18 kg) had stayed off for about two years, I decided to lose another 30 lbs. (14 kg) and really get my life in gear.

A new diet of 600 calories per day was in fashion in 1987: a diet bar for breakfast and lunch and then vegetables in the evening. The promoters promised a weight loss of 30 lbs. (14 kg) per month and I achieved that very easily. I was hungry but triumphant at less than 155 lbs. (11 st, 70 kg). Unfortunately, within two months 40 lbs. (18 kg) had leapt back on to me from ‘nowhere’. My diet was good: three meals a day, no fried food, chocolate or alcohol. A normal, everyday eating program. So how did the weight gain occur?

When I was tracking all this at the age of forty five, I was simply writing down the sequence of events. Clearly, the use of antibiotics was a primary cause, but this was not the only factor. It was also obvious that I had been suffering from Candida from the age of eleven. What was also becoming clear was that after each crash diet I would put on more weight than before and another pattern was emerging.

By the time I had completed this particular jigsaw puzzle and done some more research on dieting, I discovered that in fact I had compounded the original weight problem by starving my body into protecting me. Every time I starved myself, my body, in its overwhelming desire to survive, stopped processing food and stored it instead.

When our body perceives there to be a food shortage, it will take matters into its own hands. It is now a medically proven fact that such a condition exists; you will find details of the research into this condition on the Internet and in professional fitness publications. It is often called ‘Starvation Response’, or ‘Famine Response Syndrome’. These terms do not however adequately describe the condition for me. The body appears to detect both calorie restrictions and nutritional deficiency. A person could be taking in 3,000 calories per day, but if the food is very high in fats and sugars and has little nutritional value, the body will consider this to be a form of starvation. I have therefore changed the name of this response by the body to ‘Nutritional Deficiency Syndrome’. This is a condition that goes back to our very origins. It is more prevalent in women, because we were always the child-bearers and had to be able to nourish the unborn child. The female body’s response to famine was to store fat on the hips and thighs. This is the source from which the foetus would have taken its nourishment. I had underestimated the power of my own body to protect me, despite myself. The expression ‘between a rock and a hard place’ springs to mind. I had been in a no-win situation for years.

So now I had acquired two important pieces of information. Not only did I have chronic Candida, but I was also suffering from ‘Nutritional Deficiency Syndrome’.

That, however, had been the easy bit. The physical sources of my problem were not too difficult to uncover, with some dedicated detective work. Next a rather more painful exercise: a close look at my emotional track record.

You can find the introduction and the first three chapters of my book here.

©sallygeorginacronin 2001 – 2015

If you would like to know about Candida and more about the sugars that severely damaged my health then you can find more information here.

Please feel free to share this post and comment.  thank you Sally

Size Matters – Serialisation – Chapter Three – A Life of Change

Part three of Size Matters identifies that part of my obesity issue was the pattern of constant change.  Countries, schools, friends, homes and relationships. Externally the stress was not visible but internally I needed comfort in the form of food.  As I began to work with others who also struggled with their weight, it became clear, that they too often had change as an important element of their younger lives.


Chapter Three – A Life of Change.

I was the youngest daughter of a naval officer. The travel log for the first twelve years of my life was: England, Ceylon, England, Malta, England, South Africa, England. We actually made seven moves, with seven new schools and seven new sets of friends. During this formative twelve-year period, my father was away for a number of years with the Royal Navy, and his presence, or lack of it, is evident in a little story that happened when I was five.

Scan7a - Sally

We moved to Ceylon when I was eighteen months old, but I do remember when we returned to England, at the age of three, to my mother’s old home in a small village. We moved again, within a short period, to the naval city of Portsmouth. Then my father was sent to Cyprus, and I really did not get a chance know him very well. When I was five he came home on leave and I screamed the house down when I found this strange man in bed with my mummy! He had lost a lot of hair by then and had put on some weight, no longer bearing much resemblance to the skinny blond man in the picture my mother kept by her bedside.

sally wedding day 1980

In the frequent absences of my father, my sisters, who were ten and eleven years older than me, took me under their wing and played a large part in my upbringing. On reflection, while travel to foreign places was exciting, there was an element of insecurity which may have steered me towards seeking comfort in food, as I looked for something constant and unchanging to cling to.

When I was very young, I obviously realised that there were certain behaviours you could adopt, when placed in an unfamiliar environment, which helped make you less noticeable. One of my neatest tricks was to adopt the local accent of every place we were stationed. Within weeks of moving to Cape Town, in South Africa, I was attending an Afrikaans school. At school I adopted a very strong Afrikaans accent and you would never have detected that I had not been brought up locally. Then, as soon as we moved back to Preston in Northern England, I changed my accent again so that I could have easily passed as a native-born Lancastrian.

With all the moves and school changes, my education had suffered. Each school or country had a different curriculum, and coming back to England at thirteen it was hard to try and catch up in the subjects I was due to take for ‘O level’. I was seriously behind in Mathematics, French, History and English. In fact, I hated writing prose – mainly because I was unfamiliar with many of the rules of grammar. So, to avoid the need for commas and colons, I wrote all my essays and homework in poetic verse, an unusual feat that my teachers actually let me get away with. I am sure that they would be hugely surprised to find out that I have been writing prose for a living for some time now.

Weight was already beginning to be a problem even at that time in my life. And in our last year in Cape Town I managed to put on 42 lbs (3 st, 19 kg) in weight. This is a big change for a child and, in the next chapter, I will cover what I believe to be the significant root causes for this gain.

Physical education following my weight gain was something I really hated at school, especially the communal showers we were forced to take afterwards. This was mainly because it was my first experience of being teased about my size.

Teenage girls can be pretty nasty when they put their minds to it, and if you have ever been at the receiving end of this kind of ‘teasing’ you will know how it makes you feel. So, in self-defence, I became the only girl in the school to have periods for three weeks out of four, and PE classes became much less of a problem. For those occasions where I still had to attend I ‘developed’ athlete’s foot so that I wouldn’t have to go into the showers. Basically, I was learning to use my imagination to manipulate my way out of situations that I could not handle.

By the time we returned to England, I was thirteen years old and when we got to Lancashire I was attending my fifth school to date. I worked hard, trying to catch up with the rest of my classmates in all the major subjects. But, the Navy being what it is, my father was transferred again. This time we moved back to the south of England, back to our house in Portsmouth, where I attended my sixth and final school and stayed there to take my ‘O level’ exams.

I actually slimmed down over the next four years. A normal active teenager, I started smoking at the age of fifteen and avoided school dinners to pay for my cigarettes. Luckily, the threat of teenage acne persuaded me to abandon sweets. Socially it was a busy time, with youth clubs and discos. Boys came into the equation rather than chocolate and, at sixteen, I was far too busy enjoying myself to spend time eating. This period of starving myself was to have a bearing on my weight gain in later years and I will explore this discovery in the next chapter.

As you can see, change was a constant part of my childhood. Moving to different countries introduced me to interesting and different cultures, but my education suffered as a result of changing schools so frequently. However, at heart we are all survivors, and when confronted with strange places, people and behaviour, we will adapt in any way we can. In my case, I changed my accent and dived into the chocolate!

Don’t think that I am trying to blame my childhood for my weight – even children have choices. But, apart from giving up sweets as a teenager, I did not exhibit much willpower where food was concerned. I couldn’t say no to anything that tasted the slightest bit sweet. To keep this in perspective, we have to remember that when we are children, and even when we are adults, we don’t always link our eating to our weight gain. We may understand intellectually but we do not understand emotionally. We do not truly accept that just one little bar of chocolate can do much damage. There is no immediate, obvious, weight gain and we don’t become emotionally committed to the belief that changing what we eat can really change our weight. Change needs strong emotional commitment. This lack of emotional commitment to losing weight was one of the missing elements all through my life until I decided to lose all the extra weight at forty-two years of age.

A quick review of the years since my late teens revealed a definite pattern. I was married far too young, at twenty. My husband and I were mismatched and the marriage ended in divorce five years later. During those years we managed to move seven times. Despite the problems within my marriage the joint decision we made to end our relationship was not taken lightly. Following a miscarriage early in our marriage we had no children, and, with or without children, it was a difficult time. Remember too that in the mid-seventies divorce was not as widely accepted as it is today. Again, the pattern was one of constant change with the added element of extreme emotional stress. This reinforced my need to establish familiar, comfortable territory, and food would never let me down.

Over the next three years I moved twice. Money was not plentiful and, stupidly, I spent more on smoking than on putting food into my mouth. Since meeting my second husband we have moved thirteen times in thirty-five years. In fact, because we have had temporary homes when we have worked in separate cities, we have actually had something like sixteen or seventeen addresses since 1980. Luckily, my marriage also brought me emotional stability that enabled me to at least change environments within a loving relationship. Not quite as scary as it might have been.

In my search for answers, I soon came to the realisation that change has been a major factor in my life from early childhood. I adapted to that change externally by acting the fool, changing my accent and trying to please people so that they accepted me. Overeating was my way of coping with the changes. When I was unhappy, I would buy a bar of chocolate. As a teenager, smoking became the sugar substitute and I lost weight. Under some circumstances, being heavy also probably gave me a sense of security and confidence. Nobody was going to bully me.

As an adult, I have also been faced with a great deal of change. However, when I look objectively at each of those changes, I can see that half of them were probably unnecessary. Change for change’s sake. But why? Now, I think that not only was it ingrained in me to expect change, but also each instance of change offered me the opportunity to become a different person. I could start afresh, in a place where nobody knew me, and then leave again before they saw behind the wall that I had built around me.

Talking to friends who have known me for some time has revealed that nearly all of them felt that it took a long time to get to know me, and that they never really knew where they stood with me. They felt I was aloof and secretive. What they did not realise and I have only just come to understand is that I spent most of my life feeling afraid. To the outside world I was a capable, adaptable girl and woman who made things look easy, whereas in fact I was just a very accomplished actress.

Happily, things are different now. I am slimmer, confident and open with people. I have helped many other people to discover how to lose weight. I find that opening up to them about my own experiences is vitally important, not only to show that I understand the way they feel about themselves, but also so that they realise that being reticent is a natural way of protecting ourselves.

Luckily, I have always had the support of my husband and my family. When I began the process of losing weight twenty years ago, David suggested that we both enrol together on some self-motivation courses. He felt that it would help support the process of losing weight by adding some extra ‘equipment’ to my tool-kit for making such a major change.


We both also believe that a shared experience is generally much more fun, more memorable, and longer lasting than one where we are alone. For me, it also meant that I would have some company on the long, hard, cold road that I would have to travel in order to lose 154 lbs (11 st, 70 kg). Apart from the fun we had together doing these courses, we also discovered new aspects to our relationship and hidden strengths that have certainly helped me overcome major obstacles along the way.

We moved to Ireland in 1998 and bought a house north of Dublin in County Meath. We were very close to Bettystown beach which provided a wonderful opportunity for long walks with our newly acquired family member. Sam, a ‘Lassie’ collie, whom I first met when he was only three weeks old.


During my first marriage, through circumstances that were beyond my control, I had to give up two collies. One female was eighteen months old and had been my support through some very hard times. The second was a male whom I had to leave behind when he was only eighteen months old, because of my divorce. My heart was broken both times. David and I had waited eighteen years until I could be sure that I could devote the time and effort needed to give a home to another dog. Sam was my companion, my fitness trainer and my great friend for ten years. There is no shadow of a doubt in my mind that, if he had not introduced me to the joys of sunrise in the dunes, I would not have lost all my weight so easily.

Change never stops, however, and just when I thought we were settled in Ireland, David was offered a wonderful opportunity to move to Madrid. For the first time in my life I turned down change. I was not actively seeking it and I did not embrace it. We had just bought our house, found Sam and I had just bought a new health and dietary centre in our local town. Apart from the financial losses incurred by both of us moving to Spain, it would also have meant that I again would interrupt something that I was involved in passionately to start all over again in another country.

However, there was no way that I wanted to stand in David’s way. He is a brilliant businessman and this job was the pinnacle of a successful career. Our relationship was strong enough to make a compromise.

For three years David and I exchanged visits between Ireland and Spain every few weeks. We also managed to spend holidays together, I loved him and missed him dreadfully, I hated coming home from our house in Spain and when he returned from a visit to us in Ireland. But this time I was strong enough – with sufficiently security to know that our relationship would not suffer because we were not together all the time.

In fact, by leading two lives we found stimulation and challenges that have strengthened our feelings for each other.

Following my nutritional studies I ran the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre in Ireland for four years. During that period and then in the UK, I worked with over a thousand clients with obesity and other dietary related problems including fertility. This close involvement with men and women who needed help to adjust their lifestyles, and to regain their health, benefited me as well, as it taught me that I was not alone in my struggle and put me in the position of role model. There was certainly no opportunity for me to backslide and it reinforced my determination to maintain my weight loss.

This travelling back and forth to Spain actually satisfied my inherent need for change in my life. Eventually we could not stay apart any longer and in 2002 I decided to move permanently to Spain. I worked between Madrid and Marbella, writing for magazine columns and providing weight and health programming for English speaking radio every week. I published my first fiction ‘Just and Odd Job Girl’ and since then six more books.

For five years, I commuted back and forth to the UK for varying periods to stay with my mother in her 90s. During the times I was in Portsmouth I presented radio shows for a local station, worked with clients and continued to write articles and my books. Following her death at home, at age 95, I returned full time to our home in Madrid and as well as my daily blog posts I have published two more books with another two due at the end of 2015.

You have a choice about the past, use it or lose it. The experiences from our childhood and young adulthood have the ability to haunt many for the rest of their lives. Certainly I was privileged to have had a loving home and family with frequent moves the only disruption. I chose to use that experience in my work, both as a therapist and as a writer. I appreciate that not everyone has such happy memories but, even then, sometimes you have to realise that you cannot change the past, only the present and the future.

Now that I accept that, I also accept and adapt to change much better. One thing that I do differently today is to think about the change that is happening, and instead of leaping blindly into the next adventure, I give some thought to where it will place me, and the effect it will have on both my health and my relationships. Of course today – moving countries does not mean changing friends. With email, Skype and social media no-one gets left behind!

The previous chapters of Size Matters are here.

Find out more about me.

All my books are available on Amazon Author pages

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Size Matters (Especially when you weigh 330lbs.) – Diary of a fat woman – Serialisation

I am not tied into any other publisher or Amazon so I am fortunate enough to be able to share part or all of my books here on my blog. When I wrote my first book it was as a journal during the 18 months it took me to lose 11stone (154lbs.)

After many failed attempts to lose weight over the years, I had finally taken matters into my own hands and grabbed books on the human body and nutrition. This provided me with the basic knowledge to change my diet and lifestyle and I later went on to complete a diploma course in nutritional therapy.

Size Matters was not just my journal, but when published, was a way to spread the message that obesity kills and that you could change that outcome, by making some very simple decisions and changes to your lifestyle.. I realised very early on that respecting my body did not mean starving it but feeding it.

When I returned to Ireland from Belgium in 1998 I bought a health food shop and in the back office I opened the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre. over the next three years I saw over 1000 clients who were either overweight or suffered from lifestyle related health issues such as elevated blood pressure, too much of the unhealthy LDL cholesterol or pre-diabetes. At the end of the post I have included some of their comments about the programme I designed and still use today with some small tweaks tailor made for my age and activity levels.

Size Matters was published by Trafford Publishing in 2001 and received a lot of national press as it was one of the first ‘weight loss’ stories. Updated version two of the book was one of our first as Moyhill Publishing in 2004.

For the last 18 years my goal has not changed. To try and spread the message about healthy eating as far and wide as possible in articles, radio programmes, books and of course here on the blog.

To that end I am serialising Size Matters over the next few weeks freely on the blog. I hope that having read my own story, you will feel you can share with others and perhaps encourage them to take that first step towards a healthier life. First the introduction and then coming up soon Chapter One.



This is the fourth edition of Size Matter and although I have continued my nutritional studies and developed new programmes for healthy eating, I still believe that this basic weight loss programme 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. Our emotions, mental attitude and our physical health 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.


I used to be 330 lbs. and was given a death sentence twenty years ago. I had very high blood pressure, cholesterol levels through the roof and my blood was awash with sugar. I took this swift kick up the backside to heart and did something about it, losing 154 lbs. and regaining my health in the process.  Here is a different me… in 1999 in our home in Madrid.


I am now 62 years old, have an active and busy lifestyle and, thankfully, do not need medication other than the odd supplement when required. I still continue to write books, radio programming and a daily health blog. Most mornings I get a couple of miles under my belt on my treadmill outside overlooking the garden. Mid stride, whilst listening to a bit of Status Quo, I think about those days 20 years ago, when even climbing the stairs to bed were a challenge and left me breathless.

There have been times in the last twenty years when I toppled and nearly fell back into old ways… Stress, slipping back into the old sugar addiction and simply taking my eye of the end game… easy to do when life intrudes.

My story, and the programme that I have adapted over the years, is still relevant today, as we face a massive increase in obesity and in the associated health problems – Cardiovascular disease, Diabetes and Dementia.

I hope that you will find the following chapters of help to you as you take back control and responsibility for your weight and your health.

As you read this book you will realise that I am very anti crash and fad dieting. I starved my body into submission for over thirty years and my body responded by storing everything I ate. I will explain this process in more detail later in the book but for the moment I just want to reassure you that this programme is about eating and not starving. You need to provide your body with the nutrients and energy it needs to function and be healthy. This means eating the right food, and plenty of it.

My journey began in despair, with a long road stretching ahead of me. Luckily I had a wonderful team to support me and I would have achieved very little in those first few months without my husband’s love and support. My family, friends and my dog loved me whatever weight I have been but I know that they were tremendously relieved when I gave up my self-destructive behaviour and changed my life so drastically.

I now communicate with people around the world who have severe obesity problems as well as those people who want to improve the standard of their health or support their body as it deals with certain medical problems. I believe passionately in the power of food to help you lose weight and regain health and I am on a constant mission to learn more about all the wonderful varieties that are available to us.

This book is not just about promoting a healthier lifestyle. It is a personal story that I hope will inspire other people who are desperate to find a solution to their weight or health problem.

This was my journey and I hope that after reading the first few chapters you will relate how I felt, to your own story, and be motivated to take control of your weight and health. Whether you need to lose 14 lbs. (6 kg), 50 lbs. (23 kg) or 150 lbs. (68 kg), it is still necessary to understand how you managed to become overweight in the first place.

There are mental, physical and emotional reasons that affect our lifestyle and remembering those difficult, formative times in our lives can sometimes be painful. I was lucky, in that I had many happy memories too. When you finally succeed in making all the jigsaw pieces fit it gives you an amazing buzz and that feeling persists for me today.

Along the way I have climbed a very steep learning curve. For instance, I came to appreciate the power of that little word NO. Instinctively we want to fit in, to have people like and accept us, and so we say YES, but trying to please everyone is stressful and unrewarding.

The satisfaction of eating a bar of chocolate is nothing compared to the satisfaction I feel now when I say NO to eating one. I can now say NO to many things that have caused me harm, though I have had to learn to say it graciously without offending well-meaning family and friends.

My reason for sharing some of the most challenging and also the brightest moments of my life is to show others who have a self-destructive problem such as obesity that you can say NO and transform your life. Furthermore, saying NO to dieting and YES to eating is a lot more fun!

I believe in working with people on a one-to-one basis, rather than in a group, helping them to achieve their desired weight loss. In a way that is also achieved as you read this book or follow my daily health blog. The program that many now follow forms the second part of this book. Everything is there for you to design your own healthy eating program around your personal likes, dislikes and lifestyle.

If you are overweight, you need to take back control of your life and your eating habits, and this program is a tool to do just that. No gimmicks, pills or special diet foods, just good healthy eating, several times a day, with some walks thrown in. Nothing hard about that. We all possess the ingredients to ensure the success of this program – determination, willpower and patience. All that remains is to discover how to activate those particular skills and start using them.

My life has been transformed, and there is no way in the world that I will go back to the old life. The new life is too exciting and rewarding. If this book makes a similar difference for just one person, then it will have been worth it.

If I can communicate a single message to you it is that obesity, and the misery attached to it, need not be for life.

Here is the book trailer which was a kind gift from Catalina Egan

Comments from some of my clients over the years.

I came to see Sally Georgina in November 1999. My weight at the time was 336 lbs. and to be honest I was feeling tired and unwell in myself. I was put on a food plan suited to me and I have lost over 98 lbs. in eleven months and feel great. (L.B.)

Over the past twenty years I have tried everything that came on the market in order to lose weight, spent a fortune and still ended back in the yo-yo dieting syndrome. In the last ten weeks my life has changed. I have lost 28 lbs. Doing what? Eating! – Eating properly and regularly, and exercising sensibly. The hard part … remembering to eat all that I’m supposed to. (M.M.)

I have had a weight problem since I was pregnant with my first child nine years ago. The weight ballooned up with each pregnancy since. I have tried many diets. They work for a little while and then it is back to square one. I called into the advisory centre with the idea for a quick diet in my head and was told there was no such thing. When I heard this I was very disheartened but I made an appointment three months ago and I have never looked back. It has been a life-saver to me because I thought there would never be a way back to the old me who was happy in herself and not always making myself feel like an outsider. (M.B.)

I lost 38 lbs. eating six times a day on the Cronin Program. With an easy, healthy, eating plan – and support from Sally Georgina – I achieved my weight loss for the first time in fifteen years. I was shown how to stick with it and have patience. Believe me, if I can do it you can. (H.L)

For the first time I have lost 14 lbs. and I feel great, full of energy and very healthy. I recommend this approach to losing weight. (M.W.)

I have tried all the diets available, had some weight loss but no change in my dietary attitude or behaviour. Until the Cronin Weight Reduction Program. Wow, it is really something! I have lost over 23 lbs. to date with a few more to lose, but my idea of ‘eating’ has changed for the positive. My health has improved and my energy levels are those of a woman at least twenty years younger. It is brilliant. (F.R.)

I think it is very good. I have lost 42 lbs. in three months. I feel much better, I am getting my confidence back and I have loads of energy. It has changed my life. I would recommend it to anybody who finds other diets difficult. It is great to see that you succeed at something when you really try. (J.K.)

Since starting the program in October I have lost 17 lbs. I thought that I would never do it. I kept to the program and it really works. It was the first time I ever kept to a program and it was not so hard. I feel a lot better and have lots of energy. I would recommend anyone to do this. You never feel hungry when you eat six times a day. I feel good. (M.K.)

I was 205 lbs. when I came to see Sally Georgina. I walked out feeling a different woman after just one hour of talking. It has changed my life and it is the best I have felt in twenty years. (G.C.)

Next time Chapter One…Life or Death… I am told by a doctor that at 42 it is likely that my obesity related health issues would make it unlikely I would reach 45.

©sallygeorginacronin 2001

Please feel free to comment and share this and the upcoming chapters.  Thank you Sally