Battling the bulge

So 2018 has brought with it a few changes! Towards the end of last year, to my considerable annoyance, I started to notice it was becoming a squash and a squeeze to fit into some of my clothes including some of my more expensive pairs of trousers. This coincided with a phase of uncalled for tummy prodding by my wife (who’s cycling fitness drive has already been putting me in the shade physically for some time) and I realised a slippery slope of weight gain was possible! The winter months are physically less active for me but I’m also finding my farming time is becoming gradually more sedentary too as I have started to go to a few more meetings off farm than before. Now in my mid 40ies I think it also becomes biologically much harder to stay in shape. So for the first time in my life I decided to have a go at some form of restrictive diet. Up to this point I have basically eaten what I want when I want and have rudely avoided any consequences and have put this down to my busy farming lifestyle. I decided to start a new regime in January and have kept with this so far. Not a conventional sort of diet but one I felt might would work for me. Here was the plan:

  1. 3 meals a day only and cut out snacking.
  2. Have a ‘lighter’ lunchtime meal; usually soup & toast & yogurt.
  3. Drink only squash, water, fruit juice or milk… diet coke /fizzy sodas anymore.
  4. Completely remove all crisp-based snacks & all chocolate.
  5. Reduce alcohol consumption to practically zero.
  6. Continuing my abstinence of coffee and tea!
  7. Use apples as my emergency comfort food.

The key one here is number 4. I had got to a ridiculous level of crisp/chocolate consumption as add-on’s to lunch and tea. Club biscuits were being consumed at a furious rate and Walker’s were making a fortune from my crisp gluttony!

Breakfasts are big or small; bigger breakfasts follow a smaller tea the evening before and involve 2 eggs on toast; smaller breakfasts substitute jammy toast. Both follow a bran based cereal. Always amazed how energized I feel from 2 eggs on toast and this quashes any lunchtime hunger pangs!

So now in mid-february what have I found? Firstly I’m pleased with my self-determination and have kept to my targets. Giving up crispy snacks was relatively easy but crash stopping chocolate was really tough. Walking into a garage shop and passing by the crispy snacks and confectionery sections is a trial of will every time. The alcohol thing was easy; I had practically stopped drinking before this whole experiment anyway. I now find even a small amount of alcohol gives me a corker of a headache so I’m quite relaxed about this change. Won’t ever be making the move to tea-total; it’s just too awkward for some social situations.

I would theorize the reason for chocolate getting out of control was it was my only dietary source of caffeine; by cutting out diet cokes and chocolate at the same time I ‘cold turkeyed’ caffeine out of my system a bit rapidly. I’m always surprised more people don’t have an issue with eating this natural insecticide anyway; try googling ‘spiders on caffeine’ which started that whole hare running!

One of the outcomes of this change is the cost; eating better is undoubtedly more expensive. Chocolate and crisps are basically cheap in terms of £/calorie; eating more wholesome food costs more money but what better thing to invest in than yourself.

I’m also conscious of the family history for diabetes on my mother’s side and seen too many features on sugar being the real ‘big-daddy’ dietary poison in our diets (not fat/salt).

I have been eating a huge amount of apples (3 a day?) as the comfort food! Egremont Russett apples, by the way, are the best! If I am lucky enough to live to 100 (unlikely but you gotta hope) I will put it down to the apples cancelling out my other dietary shortcomings! Determined to find a part of the farm to get a mini orchard going; a no-brainer if I am to continue eating apples like this! A local firm also converts your spare apples to your own personalized apple juice as an added benefit I’m keen to utilise!

I digress…more importantly has it made any difference to my waistline? My weight has reduced approximately a small 0.8 kg since January 1st (from 82.1kg). Tiny really but going the right way and my trousers are all fitting better again so something is shifting somewhere and that was the primary goal for the whole experiment!

My target is to get back below 80 kg and then monitor to stabilize. I was going to keep to this self-programme until¬† at least August when harvest throws everything up in the air and I just need to eat like a pig to keep going… so at this point I might have a dietary holiday! Having said that I still intend to stay caffeine free (no sodas) and alcohol low indefinetely as it’s just a hunch this is a good health aspiration.

My first diet cannot be considered to be a roaring success in terms of weight loss but I’ve gained satisfaction from keeping to my self-pledges and I’ve felt better about myself. Rapid weight loss also comes with its own risks. The only issue I’ve had is bouts of wakefulness around 3am-5am but that may be a coincidence or perhaps I just need less sleep now?

No diet is perfect and certainly not mine. A report came out today showing the links between processed food and cancer; all of us can all do better in that part of our diet. I read somewhere once that if you are eating something which a hunter gatherer from 15,000 years wouldn’t recognize as food you probably shouldn’t eat it and there’s a grain of truth to this. We all eat too much meat (well I do) and too much processed foods like pizzas. I would still only grade my diet a b+ at best; could do better!

Will I ever eat crisps or chocolate again….who knows?! A small price to pay if I enjoy better health and a longer life.