fat accumulation table, obesity, Sally Cronin, Size Matters, weightloss
Here is chapter two of my journey from being morbidly obese at 330lbs to a healthier weight. I want to make clear that I am not some perfect role model for weight loss. I can fall off the wagon as quick as a flash given the opportunity and for me it is a lifetime’s challenge to stay within a healthy weight range. Now I am in my 60s it is tempting to slack off but sharing this with you also helps me. By remembering where I was and reminding me how much I hated being that weight.
A Good Place to Start
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 rich 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 twenty 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 pages 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.
You will find a chart, in the actual programme (Annex 4 – Fat Accumulation Table), that will help you to ‘know thy food’ in a different way. It will help you to appreciate the cumulative effect of eating certain foods on a regular basis. The results show the long-term weight gain you would achieve by habitually eating some well-known foods. I like the cumulative 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.
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. In my life I have accumulated many delightful memories of events and people. Humour has always been a great saving grace, especially during the hard times. On my journey, I discovered that what I really needed to learn about was the ‘dark side’. The side we very rarely show to other people, the side that governs many of our emotions – and the actions we take when we are in certain emotional states. 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.
The theories that I first developed all those years ago have become firm beliefs and in some cases confirmed by scientific research.
The next chapters look at the many mental and physical changes I experienced from an early age. It was only when I began writing about my life that I realised just how much I had forgotten, or put to the back of my mind. This gave me the opportunity to revisit some good times (and some confusing times as well) from the past that have shaped the person I have become today.
This is a record of my journey back to my past from a mental, physical and emotional point of view. It is a journey not lightly undertaken. When you make this journey yourself remember that it is important to try to be objective in order to learn how best to help yourself in the present. Many people have had traumatic experiences in their lives that may be hard to recall, so don’t hesitate to seek help from a counsellor, for guidance through this process of exploration, if you feel at all nervous about the process.
I see myself as an intelligent, imaginative person, with a sense of humour, keen to try new experiences. Using these assets, I have tried to look back over the years in order to identify the patterns that might have led to the sort of compulsive eating that had engulfed me.
The first place I chose to start, logically, was my childhood.
In a post recently I featured the Fat Accumulation Table and here it is again for those of you who might have missed it. Most of us have little rituals associated with some of the food that we eat. And we will often attach one or two foods together. For example Tea and two biscuits. Coffee and a Danish. When I smoked I could not drink a cup of tea without having a cigarette at the same time. Once you have developed that ritual it is very difficult to break. However, when you next time say to people ‘If only I could lose that last 10lbs!’ Take a look at your rituals and it may well be that having two biscuits with your cup of tea instead of just one might make all the difference.
Next time Chapter Three and some of the triggers from my childhood that encouraged me to turn to food as a coping mechanism.
Here is the Introduction and Chapter One.
Please feel free to share with anyone who might find my story useful to their own struggle with weight.
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 http://thebridgeofdeaths.com/
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.
Please feel free to comment and share this and the upcoming chapters. Thank you Sally