The Really Simple Guide to Losing Weight by Angela Caldin

dietDiets I have Known

I’m on a diet. Again. And there, dear reader, is the rub. That ‘again’ is the pivotal word that makes it abundantly clear that all those other diets didn’t work, otherwise I wouldn’t be on a diet. Again.

My first diet occurred after my third child’s birth, before and after which I had blown up to resemble a barrage balloon and drastic measures to achieve deflation were clearly needed. I chose Weightwatchers, mainly because I had heard of it and there were convenient meetings just at the end of the road. Weightwatchers is great and it really works. There’s something galvanising about paying for the privilege of getting weighed in public, whether or not you choose to listen to the weekly pep talk afterwards.  I was so successful that I became a gold card holder with a sylph-like physique, vowing to stay on the maintenance programme for ever and ever. But here’s what happens: as time goes on, you start to revert slowly to your old ways – a croissant here, some lovely golden chips there – and before you know it, the weight has begun to creep stealthily back on again while the maintenance programme gathers dust at the bottom of the pile of papers on your desk.

My second foray into the world of diets took place in the company of my dear friend and next door neighbour at the time (she knows who she is). Our last born children had just started nursery and, with a little time on our hands, we decided to shift those extra pounds with Rosemary Conley and her 28 day diet and fitness programme. We ate fat free and mega healthily for 4 weeks and did the excruciatingly repetitive daily exercises together unfailingly. The pounds fell off and we literally changed shape, becoming wonderfully honed and toned. We vowed that we’d always stick to the principles of the diet and remain slim and trim to the end of our days. Rosemary had a ‘stay slim’ programme at the end of her book which we must have followed for at least two weeks. There’s definitely something about reaching your goal weight which makes you want to eat a battered sausage and a cinnamon swirl without further ado.

Since then I’ve done Weightwatchers again (twice); rebought the Rosemary Conley book because I couldn’t find the original one, managing to stick to it for precisely two weeks (come back dear friend and neighbour, I couldn’t do it without you); tried the 500 calories for 2 days a week regime and nearly passed out one busy day because I felt so weak; downloaded My Fitness Pal onto my iPad and spent ages conscientiously and laboriously feeding in details of what I’d eaten to get its calorific value until I nearly cried with the boredom of it all.

A  New Era

So now I’m trying a new approach and it’s this: I’m going to eat healthily and I’m going to eat well. I’ve finally realised at this advanced age that if I eat chips and lots of processed foods and if I can’t resist having a pastry every time I have a coffee (which is most days) I’m going to put on weight. If I keep on eating foods with added sugar, preservatives and other additives with long names, I won’t lose weight.

Remember the words of Mr Micawber in David Copperfield?

‘Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen shillings and sixpence, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and sixpence, result misery. The blossom is blighted, the leaf is withered, the god of day goes down upon the dreary scene, and, in short, you are for ever floored.’

It’s the same principle for food, only the other way round: take in more food than you need (and in particular processed foods), and you’ll put on weight ending up miserable with your blossom blighted; take in less than you need, but make it good, unprocessed food, and you’ll lose weight and end up happier with your leaves burgeoning. The difficult part comes when you’ve lost the weight and you feel fabulous; then you have to find some way of not returning to the old eating pattern that made you put on weight in the first place. It’s one thing to achieve the target weight and quite another to maintain it. But this time, dear reader, I will not be floored; I will not falter: the weight is coming off and it’s staying off.

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