Early this year, I decided to undergo a little body transformation. No, I don't mean I'm going all Cher on people and forking over gobs of cash to fix my nose or belly or whatever. I decided that at age 43, though reasonably fit, I could stand to lose the customary 10 to 12 kilos that Australians talk about often enough. (As an aside, my American readers will simply have to accept that I live in a metric country and figure out the conversions all on their own.)
Upon making this decision, I did a bit of research on the proper methods of weight loss and what is achievable in a four- to six-month span of time. A decade ago I was gung ho about the Atkins diet, but in the intervening years have come to find these types of diets so restrictive as to be ridiculous. Its adherents appear to lose heaps of weight, and then like any other fad diet they gain the weight back over time.
On an online forum I read and post to regularly, I asked the resident fitness expert about the various types of diets out there and he came back with a common sense answer: eat what you want in smaller quantities, eat several small meals a day and stay hydrated. That's it. No self-deprivation, no starvation, no angry cravings that only annoy people, anyway. Oh, and a bit of good resistance training every week.
I decided to try the Lite n' Easy diet (somewhat the Australian equivalent of Weight Watchers), not because it's anything earth shattering, but because it trains you to be conscious of portion size and frequency of meals. So, for the first month of my experiment, I signed up to a 1200-calorie per day diet that included the three main meals of the day and snacks in between. The service conveniently delivers an esky to your door with the week's food. They provide clear directions on what to put in the fridge and freezer. For the breakfasts and lunches, they label each by day of the week. Dead simple.
The quality of the food is above average. They won't win any awards, but to their credit, Lite n' Easy keeps it simple and reasonably flavourful. They also provide a wide array of choices, so if pumpkin and beetroot are not your thing (as a newish resident of Australia, I am still not a huge fan of either), there are plenty of other meal options available.
After my first month or so, I began to wean myself off the Lite n' Easy food, starting with the breakfasts. Because I had trained myself to eat breakfast every day, I have merely replaced theirs with my own. Instead of three eggs and four rashers of bacon, I'll eat ONE egg and a bit of bacon, along with a bottle of water. Or I'll have a SMALL bowl of muesli and an apple. Again, nothing complex there, just some rational thought applied to what I ingest.
Throughout this time, I have continued my twice weekly sessions with my fantastic trainer Alison. In two month's time, I have lost approximately half the weight I want to AND I feel satisfied with my progress. I no longer feel hungry or full - ever. My clothes fit me better and by the end of my weight loss I will need to go shopping. That alone is an exciting prospect for this clothes horse.
The most important lesson I've learnt is vigilance. To remain fit, one must constantly heed one's own body warnings. I have lived in my own body for long enough to know what will cause me to gain weight again and what I must do to maintain the shape that I seek, however modest my own goals. Another lesson came from a cognitive therapist I am familiar with: don't beat myself up for the progress I HAVEN'T made, but do feel proud of the success I HAVE achieved.
I still eat pasta - because I love it - but in much smaller quantities. Life is grand. Now go eat, drink, be merry and lead a life of achievement.