Well, I think I might as well give up with the 5:2 diet. It worked, and worked well, for about a year and a half and at its peak I had lost about 10kg. Towards the end of last year, however, the weight started creeping back on, as EVERYONE, said it would and after I stopped fasting over Christmas – no-one diets over Christmas, right? – I realised that I’d regained most of the weight I’d lost. Depressing.
What happened? A combination of factors, I think. Perhaps my metabolism slowed down to accustom itself to the reduced weekly calories I was taking on board; perhaps I was busy and stopped exercising quite so much so I wasn’t burning as many calories; perhaps my euphoria at losing the weight resulted in my eating things I normally wouldn’t eat. I know that I had stopped being quite as strict with the 500 calorie limit on my fast days and that I often used to turn fast-Boxing Days into catch up eat all you like binge-orgies. Well, maybe not quite as bad as that, but that’s how I feel about them now.
I also read a report posted on Twitter by @LeahFHardy about how the body, sensing weight loss, goes into a panic and tries everything it can to hold on to the excess weight in case of a future famine. Yes, I’m aware how entitled this looks compared with people who don’t get enough to eat.
Does any of this matter? Should we not have gone past the point where a 50 year old woman, who still looks reasonably trim for her age body shames herself constantly? I don’t know. What I do know is that my smaller, more body-con clothes have narrowed suspiciously to the point where I no longer feel comfortable wearing them. I dislike the returning fat roll around my hips that pokes out over my jeans or makes its presence felt through my choir concert dress to the point where I am wearing smoothing underwear on important occasions. I know. I am vain. I am fighting off the onset of old age and the menopause and all those things that inevitably go with them. Having only very recently discovered something attractive in myself, I don’t want to let it slip away, despite the increasing greyness at my temples when I push back my hair.
And, of course, even 3kg of extra weight makes a huge difference to the BMI of someone who’s now only 5′ tall. My current weight – and let’s get this into perspective I now weigh only about a stone more than I weighed 30 years ago, not that I was exactly a skinny Minnie then – renders me borderline obese. Odd when you’re a size 8-12. And that extra 3kg slows you down at the gym. My fitness has really decreased in the last few months and I can no longer run as fast or as long on the treadmill as I could six months ago, let along join my boys at the ParkRun. Yet.
‘So,‘ I hear you say, “What do you propose to do about it all? Give in gracefully to the advancing years?” No. I’m fighting it. I’m trying to do more exercise, although there’s also recently been a report about how exercise doesn’t help you lose weight. No matter. I need to be fitter and more trim and not have to ease myself into my clothes. I’ll try and gym a couple of times a week but going for a power walk/run in addition to this is a quick way of trying to increase my fitness and burning off calories. Just a walk around our local park for about 40 minutes is 5km worth and sets me up well for the rest of the day.
I’ve also decided to make myself healthy porridge a few days a week and try very hard to stay away from too many refined carbohydrates. This means not indulging in a cheeky chocolate bar from Waitrose on the way back from the gym. How is it possible that a bar this thin can make one so fat? The biscuits will have to be phased out too. The constant, emotional snacking is no good for me and probably has a terrible effect on my blood sugar and insulin levels. It’s got to stop.
But there’s no point dieting if you only put the weight back on again when you stop. I need to change my habits forever, and this means doing things slowly and purposefully. Cutting back on my carbohydrate portion size; eating mainly vegetables. That sort of thing. It’s perfectly doable. If I actually want to do it.