I have been on a diet for the past 22 years. Since I was 18 I have counted calories, binged and purged, fretted about the circumference of my thighs and happily skipped meals. I’ve joined WeightWatchers and tried the Atkins diet. So it was no surprise to myself that I am now trying the 5:2 diet. For those of you who don’t know (there can’t be many) it involves eating a normal calorie intake for 5 days of the week (this is 2000 cals for women, 2500 for men) and on the other two days you ‘fast’. Actually, fasting allows you 500 cals as a woman, 600 as a man. The fasting days should not be consecutive. In addition to weight loss it is believed to have long-term health benefits too, something not refuted by the NHS but not endorsed either. When you reach your target weight, you take it down to 6:1.
Anyway, I have heard a LOT of good stuff about it from all sorts of sources and thought I would give it a whirl. I am on a 1300 cals a day diet anyway at the moment in my bid to reach my target weight of 133lbs by the time I am 40. So, for me, 500 cals isn’t too bad….honestly! For example, today I had poached egg on Vogel toast for breakfast, I am having a WeightWatchers from Heinz can of soup for lunch and for supper some couscous, salad and veggies. I will also have a lot of fruit tea and diet coke, which gives me a fuller feeling. Now, I don’t think that’s too bad and I am actually quite enjoying the feeling of tummy rumbling and realising what it feels like to be hungry – really hungry, not just peckish or fanciful for something.
I am trying to use the fasting time to focus myself too. I can understand why a lot of religions have fasting as part of their practice as it is quite a cleansing thing for body and mind. Yes, it takes willpower but if you focus on why you are doing it, what your goals are, picture yourself at a certain event or time looking and feeling great, then it all helps to resist the biscuit jar. And because the next day you can eat as you like, then it is easier to do. The finish line is always in view.
Now I can say all this, but as I have mentioned I am used to dieting and exerting self-control over the carbs and calories. I am also a size 10 which makes a lot of people frown at me and wield their ‘you don’t need to diet’ sword with great gusto. No, I don’t need to diet, my BMI is fine and I am happy with my size. I no longer yearn to be size 8, but I still don’t want to be a larger size – not because there is anything wrong with it, but it is not right for ME. When I am heavier, I am miserable and get depressed. I work hard to stay a size 10 and as I get older and my metabolism slows, I am having to try harder still. I also don’t exercise nearly as much as I should. Partly because I don’t enjoy it and partly because the one thing I do enjoy (running) I rarely have time to do. When I am not working, I have a two-year old in tow. And to all those sword-wielders; I am a grown woman, perfectly capable of making my own informed decisions, thanks all the same. You do it your way, I’ll do it mine.
The difference in my attitude to dieting/my weight now, compared to 20 years ago is huge. At 18 I was bordering bulimic and had an unhealthy obsession with what I should look like; that being thin would make people like me more. Yes – there was a whole host of crap going on in my head. Thankfully, I no longer feel that way. As 40 approaches, I am re-thinking my life and myself, but in a positive way. I want to be healthier, not thinner. I worry about heart disease rather than heart-ache. And I have realised that changes need to be made all over the place; but to start with I need to re-train myself into a lifestyle that involves healthy eating, a bit of physical exertion and, I am afraid, a lot less wine.
I’ll fill you in on the other changes another day….but for now, for me, it is quality not quantity and life in the fast lane.
p.s. If you’re interested, I use a really good app called My Net Diary for calorie counting etc. I have also heard My Fitness Pal is good, but I prefer the graphics on the first one.