Saturday, 22 October 2016

I've Lost Weight- How Did That Happen?

 From Obese to Overweight!

For years I have been in denial.  It's true. In the past  I would say to myself, "You are  slightly overweight John", the Body Mass Index graph however would scream, "You are not overweight, you're obese."  I would say, "John, rugby players have a similar BMI to you  and they are athletes".  Anyone else would say, "You are not an athlete, you do not play rugby, you are simply FAT."  And they would have been correct.

Would have been I hear you ask? That's right, for now I am John's Blog Slimmer of the Month. True, I am still in the overweight band of the BMI graph but no longer obese and that to me is progress. Frivolity aside I have managed to lose around 8 pounds in  little over 4 weeks and no one is more surprised than myself.

Since running the London marathon in 2010 I had steadily added on the pounds and nothing I did seemed to be able to shift the excess weight.  Weekends of wine, cheese, curry, more cheese and beer didn't help but even when I cut back, went low fat and cut out the usual culprits, the weight stubbornly stayed put.  Now for the first time in 6 years weight loss is occurring. 

So what's the secret?

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was reading Michael Moseley's thoughts on diet.  He is the man who came up with the 5-2 diet.  I tried that but would eat so much on the "eat what you want " days that it negated the benefits of the fast days. It was not for me.  

However I read with interest his book "The 8 week blood sugar diet."  Again, this was not for me as I knew I could not sustain a long period of denying myself the foods I love.  What I did take on board was his assertion that much of the dietary advice we have been given in the past is just plain wrong. The key message of going low fat which has been almost a dietary orthodoxy for years has been shown by recent studies to be ineffective .  When people go low-fat they get hungry and eat more carbohydrates and often sugary ones. The weight goes back on. Food producers will often take fat out of a product and replace it with sugar. For me low fat had to go.

I recommend that you read Moseley's book if you want the full science but essentially he points out that sugary carbs play havoc with our insulin levels and that in turn has led to weight gain for many and a rise globally in type 2 diabetes.

I took on board some of this thinking which also stresses eating whole foods, cutting out processed food and eating plenty of fruit but more importantly vegetables and devised an eating plan that would work for me. 
I decided that during the week I would have a carb free breakfast, skip lunch and have a pretty standard evening meal.  Skipping lunch works for me as during the day I can put up with feeling a bit peckish knowing that a good meal was on the horizon at around 6pm. I also eat a good protein based breakfast such as eggs with cheese or ham or yoghurt with fruit. These carb free but protein rich breakfasts  make me feel surprisingly full. I now only use full fat yoghurt, milk and cheese because another misconception is that fat makes you fat. It doesn't. It makes you feel fuller for longer and with less sugar around insulin levels are kept under control.

For my evening meal I may have some carbs in the form of a small portion of  pasta or rice but the emphasis is still on protein such as fish or chicken and plenty of vegetables or salad.  At the weekend I allow the regime to slacken off a bit and enjoy maybe toast for breakfast enjoy a light lunch and even have a beer in the evening. So no great privations, just a few simple changes. The good thing is that it has worked.

But there's more

This change to my eating regime is only part of the story.  The other two important elements that have made this possible for me have been:
1  Being retired
2  Engaging in more physical activities and exercise

Being retired has been important in that I can control what I eat and drink far more easily than I could do whilst working. Work can be full-on and stressful and sugary carbs suddenly become sirens of desire beckoning us to consume them.  Which I did on a regular basis. I also have more time to shop for the right foods and prepare healthy meals.

The other change which could only really have happened as a result of retirement has been the increase in exercise. Since retiring I have taken up table tennis , I play walking football and regularly exercise at home.  I have even started jogging again.  Whilst working I would often feel too tired to do these things or could not fit them in.  In other words retirement has created a set of circumstances where it has suddenly become relatively easy to lose weight and get fit.  It has simply been far easier to implement and stick to a diet regime outside of work.

I suppose I have spent a long time in this post stating a basic set of truths which is that if you want to lose weight you have to eat less and exercise more.  That is only half the story. It has  been the reality of retirement that's enabled me to research and focus on a diet regime that works for me and also given me the time to pursue physical activities that have given impetus to the diet and complemented it.

Prior to retirement I worried  that retirement might lead to some kind of physical decline.  I never imagined it would make me feel better than I have done in years.

I would love to hear about other people's experiences around this topic. Has retirement been the beginning of an unexpected physical renaissance for you or did it go the other way? 

Luckily for me it's now Saturday night and I allow myself some leeway at the weekend. So I am off to make a curry, minus the rice of course, enjoy a cold beer and wallow in the pride of being overweight rather than obese -but first-20 minutes on that exercise bike.

Bon Appetit! 


  1. Congratulations on your weight loss! I'm fortunate that I've been able to maintain a good weight throughout my life. But before I was retired, I struggled to work in exercise (too tired, no time etc). And, my eating habits were OK, but not great.

    Retirement has allowed me the luxury of eating healthier and enjoying exercise of choice, on my schedule, as opposed to the restrictions of work imposed time restraints.

    The focus on protein, fruit and vegetables really is key. Throw in some treats now and then, and you have a sustainable diet. My weakness is chocolate!

    I imagine that as time goes on, not only will the weight drop, but you will feel better. That in itself will be reinforcing these new and healthier habits.

    1. Thanks Carole. Cutting back on carbs has definitely had an impact for me. It's just the weekends that let me down (old habits from work days- end of week, let your hair down etc)but I guess the weekend is my elongated treat. Key thing is things are going in the right direction. Lucky you that you maintained a sensible weight throughout your life, although it's probably more down to discipline and sense than luck I suspect. Take care.

  2. John, I read with interest the strategy that you have used to change your habits and reduce weight. I have had a similar struggle around healthy eating. I wrote a series of posts on my blog a few years ago about the method that I tried. I have provided a link here to the final post in that series. Links to the earlier posts are embedded in this one. Or you can find them under the "food" or "health" topics on my blog in the December 2012-March 2013 period. This method worked well for me, although I did get derailed last year due to an injury that kept me on the couch with my foot up for five months last year.

    1. Hi Jude , read that post with interest. Goal setting and some self discipline are certainly important but the revelation for me is that the diet orthodoxy of low fat has just not worked for so many. Processed food and in particular processed sugary carbs are the real villains, playing havoc with our blood sugar and insulin. Like you I'm not a great believer in faddy diets. I now use full fat milk, Greek full fat yoghurt, dreamy fatty cheese but all in moderation and cutting out all sugary carbs where practicable. I also drink wine but crucially cut out lunch. I exercise more and it works for me. I also since retirement had a long hard look at some of the reasons I overindulged but that is a whole new post I reckon.

    2. I completely agree with you about sugar and the carbs in processed food. The new research on full fat foods is very interesting, and completely opposite to what was touted for so many decades. It makes sense to me.



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