Sunday, 27 December 2015

Excuses, excuses... No excuses.

The other day at work, while I was zapping my lunch, I plugged my meal into the app, and  I found myself musing on the various times I'd counted calories or kept food diaries of one version or another.  While large portions of my life have been completely diet free, every so often in the last 10 years, I've gritted my teeth and tried (again) to lose the 15lb of fat that settled around my waist after my thyroid packed in.  Virtually every attempt involved some sort of tracker.

I was an overweight kid, probably carrying 2 stone more than I should have been by the time I was 11 or 12. (One stone = 14lb = 6kg.) I think the very first time I tried to diet was when I was 13 and my mum had bought a Weight Watchers' cookbook, which amazingly included details of the entire original Plan.  On that occasion, I ruled up a few pages in an exercise book, to act as my menu/meal tracker.  It was filled in on the first morning then abandoned.  Keeping track of Weight Watchers portions was too much like hard work, particularly since I had to keep referring back to the cookbook, which was too big to carry with me.

A couple of months later, I found a "model" diet in Dolly magazine and tried that.  A modelling school and agency - I forget which - gave it to the magazine; it was the diet they dished out to all their potential models. The selling point was "lose a stone in two weeks".  All I can remember is that most meals consisted of two eggs, half a grapefruit and spinach.  Not being much of a cook at the age of 14, I mainly hard boiled the eggs and boiled the spinach, which was disgusting.  Making a frittata never occurred to me. 

Then there was some terrible yoghurt and bran diet, which I devised myself.  (Don't ask.)  I must has been 15 by then and working on the theory that yoghurt was low in calories, full of calcium and protein, while the bran would fill me up. That lasted a couple of days.  Not only did it taste horrible, but I was hungry the entire time,  No wonder the word diet became associated in my mind with suffering through terrible tasting meals.

By the time I was 19, I'd given up on diets completely.  They were far too much like self-imposed torture for no reward.  The only thing that I tried to do, food wise, was to eat healthily:  more of the dreaded vegetables (I hated vegetables), high in fibre and low fat (anyway, greasy food gave me horrible irritable bowel syndrome cramps).  Gradually, I learned to like vegetables.  I did lose weight but it was almost by accident, and my weight stabilised at about 10st (140lb).  For a long time, I didn't even own a set of scales.

Fast forward to 1991, when I was working for a certain cosmetic surgery company, as a cross between office admin and operating theatre nurse. They decided that there was money to be made in diets, so sent me as a spy to a rival clinic.  The diet I was given that day was all about quantities and choices.  It was not prescriptive - as long as I didn't exceed the stated amounts, I could eat anything I chose. No menu plan. No "it's Tuesday, therefore you can only have 5 eggs and a head of lettuce". It was easy, straightforward and, after a day or so, I decided "I can stick with this".  Religiously, I tracked everything I ate, wrote it all down so that I could reproduce the diet meals later on.  While the company paid for the first visit, I paid for the rest.  I went back every week for 13 weeks and lost 2 stone in the process.  For the only time in my life, I achieved the magic goal weight of 8st 4lb.  

It didn't last, but my weight stabilised at a perfectly acceptable 9st 2lb and UK size 12 for the following 6 years.  It was only when I started living on Chinese takeaway, after we'd moved house and my first marriage was falling apart that I began putting the pounds back on.  By the turn of the millennium, I was 12 stone and the heaviest I have ever been.  

I managed to shed some pounds, once DH and I started living together but I was still over 11st when we started planning our wedding in 2003.  At the advice of some friends, I resorted to Weight Watchers.  While I counted points, based on the then Plan and pointed up most of my recipes, I basically followed the same program as I had in 1991.  The need to be accountable was the main reason I attended meetings.  I wrote everything up and pointed it all in the weekly food diary sheets we were given. I carried the program handbook in my handbag and referred to it often for points values.  I even joined the website. It worked, too.  I was slim at the wedding and became a gold member weighing 9st 2lb.

Less than a year later, I had shingles and the resultant autoimmune response wiped out my thyroid.  The inevitable result of hypothyroidism was weight gain.  I ballooned up to 10st 10lb, but this time the weight primarily went around my waist   I returned to Weight Watchers in 2007, stuck it out for the best part of 9 months and got back to 9st 10lb.  When I lapsed, the lesson I learned very quickly was that it took very little over-eating to put on weight.  Living for a week, once a month, in a hotel at site did it.  By the time the Project left site in 2011, I was back at 11st.  

When I returned to Weight Watchers, the program had changed.  Everything needed to be pointed up again.  I downloaded the app to my phone but it was frustratingly clumsy.  I tried logging into the website every day - at one point, whenever I opened Internet Explorer, it would automatically log straight into the tracker pages on the Weight Watchers website.  Again I found it very frustrating. I'd track for a week or so and then lapse.  Heaven help you if you ate out - although Weight Watchers continued to publish their Eating Out guide in paper format, it was impossible to find the same information out digitally.  For several years, I kept trying to make the new Weight Watchers program work for me and kept failing.  Eventually, in 2014, I gave up completely and resigned my membership of the website, cancelling my monthly subscription.

I don't remember when I downloaded the app to my iPhone.  I do know that in September 2014, I had a play with it, thinking that so long as I counted calories, I might achieve something.  As weight loss tools go, it has been a revelation: it is a calorie counter:  not only can you plug in your recipes and count their calories, it has a database that stores details of millions of preprepared foods and thousands of restaurant dishes.  It is an exercise tracker, interacting with dozens of fitness apps and tools, like my Fitbit.  It can even be turned into a pedometer, if I forget to put the Fitbit on.  It was everything that the Weightwatchers app, etc, wasn't.  It is easy.  It is non-judgemental and every day starts with a clean slate.

You may remember that, as part of my 15-goals-in-2015, I challenged myself to lose 15lb this year.  Most days, I have tracked my food and my footsteps in and it hasn't been a hassle.  I didn't make goal, but I didn't fail too badly,  On 5 January, when I weighed myself upon our return from Miami, I weighed 10st 10lb.  A month ago, I weighed 10st 3lb.  At my lowest point this year, I was 10st 2lb.  I haven't weighed myself in December so a 7lb weight loss for the year will have to do. It has had a visible effect on my body.  People have noticed and commented.  I'm back wearing most of my size 12 clothing.  Next year, I will try to lose the final 8lb.

- Pam

1 comment:

Mother of Chaos said...

Good on you, Pam! Man, I think that lack of judgmental stuff is so important, too. Sure, sometimes I do need a swift kick in the rear, but honestly something that is going to NAG at me is not something I'm going to end up USING - especially when I arguably need it the most, when I *know* I've fallen off the wagon and need to climb back up on it.

...quick LECTURING me, man, I'm doing the best I can...