Food tips which keep me on the straight and narrow

I was asked recently in comments to give an idea of my daily eating, a typical day in the life of me. It’s difficult to do as I like to have lots of variance in my diet but as I’ve thought about it there are recurring themes and much of it is just adapting what are my staples. I would hate to preach to anyone as I believe finding the right diet for you is very personal, just as is finding the right exercise for you. But here are some of the concepts I guess which have formulated my eating strategy.

I’ve changed my eating habits over the past six months or so and refined things slightly by cutting out more and more of the less healthy stuff or shifting my stance in what I perceive to be healthy or not. I eat far less meat now and oddly for someone healthy eating I include more dairy and some of that is full fat dairy. It works for me.

I used to feel the need for a carb hit when exercising but I don’t get that anymore so I guess my body is running on the fat reserves which is what I want it to do.

I cut out as much processed and refined stuff as possible. I eat lots of raw foods every day and try to have a rainbow of foods through the week. I switch peppers through green yellow orange and red, I have red and green leaves in salad I have yellow orange green red blue and purple fruits and veg. I flavour up with a wide range of herbs and spices. I eat a variety of beans and pulses.

Carbs come from rice and cous cous as well as potato and peas and pulses and other grains such as oats.

It’s taken me six months of making small changes, reading about foods and nutrients changing habits and routines to get here, it doesn’t happen overnight, small changes, step by step is the way forward. But here are my top tips.

Top Tip Number One – Water

First of all I have to say water. Drink at least two litres of water through the day. Much more if you do lots of sweaty exercise or if it is hot.

I drink water before I get out of bed and last thing at night and all day long.

Not only does it keep you hydrated and prevent you from mistaking thirst for hunger it helps flush toxins, does wonders for your skin, keeps your bodily systems and organs functioning well and is also said to have beneficial effects in terms of heart and brain health.

Tip Two – Made Medicinal Foods part of your Morning Routine

A glass of boiled water with an infusion if you like of the following is my recent adaptation of my morning shots of goodness. I take pint glass, near fill it with boiled filter water, still hot like you would for tea and I squeeze in the juice of a whole lemon, a teaspoon of turmeric, a teaspoon of cinammon, a teaspoon of organic honey and steep a white organic tea bag. I mix it all up and drink it down fast saving the last to wash down a chunk of finely chopped root ginger and 4 garlic cloves chopped. After that I have a wheatgrass shot and then I have a glug of kefir or you could use a probiotic drink.

I have a glass of kombucha just before I eat breakfast.

It seems bizarre that I do this every morning but it’s not as crazy as it seems. I’ve done a lot of research into foods which heal and prevent certain conditions which I need to worry about. I see this morning ritual as no different and far more healthy than necking a heap of supplements or a heap of medication every morning. These foods are my drugs. I don’t take any medication for anything ever.

Tip Three – Eat Three Meals a Day and Never Skip Breakfast

This is almost always granola for me with a tablespoon of flax a half tablespoon of ground apricot kernels and filtered milk. I always include in my granola a bunch of dried cranberries, sultanas and cashew nuts as well as almond flakes. To save money I make my own granola and you can make a few ingredients go a long way. It also allows you to be in control of ingredients with no hidden sugars. I try to exclude processed and refined foods as much as I can. To sweeten I use a high grade organic honey or as unrefined sugar as possible.

I wash that down with another pint of cold water.

Tip Four – Plan Snacks Just In Case

Mid morning I will have a berry smoothie, just a couple of hands full of mixed berries I include Goji blueberries raspberries blackberries cherries and just blitz them up with water.

If I don’t have a smoothie prepared and can’t make one I’ll chow on the fruit and drink water.

These do not need to be expensive you can buy frozen packs for convenience you can grow your own and freeze for use out of season you can stock up when supermarkets have offers on. Or you can shop share as I’ve suggested before; so you buddy up with a friend or two and you each buy a variety of berry and share so you have a mixture. I feel that eating a variety of fruits veg berries herbs whatever is important. I would try to ensure I eat each type of berry at least three times a week.

I always carry a snack with me if I’m out and about even if I don’t eat it, it’s there to add to lunch or to save for the next day and stops me snacking on junk.

Tip Five – Everything Stops for Lunch

Lunch is such an important meal and another one I would previously skip. Stopping for lunch now not only gives me chance to refuel and hydrate but also to take a break from work and mentally refresh and unwind. I sit somewhere and have a bit of deep relaxation before or after eating, if only for ten minutes. It makes a world of difference. I also take a walk up and down some stairs at lunch time or out in the fresh air to get some exercise.

For lunch I always start with a big glass of water and a serving of Kombucha. Then I either have a big salad with lots of green leaves. Spinach and kale are cheap, fab wholesome foods and easy to grow too. Lots of cucumber, tons of tomatoes, onions  celery and I will either squeeze a citrus dressing on to it, simply a half lemon or orange or both and eat with oily fish. that can be a grilled piece of fish tuna, salmon or inexpensive mackerel or sardines or tinned fish like tuna or mackerel. I have a heap of chopped beetroot on the side.

I used to have chicken but I found that if I make sure lunch is about fish I guarantee myself a serving a day and whilst fish may be more fatty than chicken breast it has lots of good nutrients which are not going to do my ageing body and brain any harm. Think of the medicinal properties of food as well as the taste and the fat factor.

I might switch salad for soup which I make very simply by combining a load of veg in a pan boiling maybe adding some lentils and then blitzing in a blender when cooked. I add herbs coriander is a favourite and rule no veg except potato out.

I’m not a microwave fan so I tend to have soup more when at home or where I can reheat by some other means.

Coasts for lunch can be kept low by using seasonal produce bulking up on cheaper ingredients and looking for offers. I do try to buy organic where possible and grow my own as much as possible too. Salad leaves and spinach are easy to grow.

Sometimes I might switch lunch for a veggie juice of kale, spinach, beetroot, celery, apple, pineapple, lemon and ginger.

If I’m craving carbs I might swap for a bean salad or I might add a ryvita or even a small amount of rice or even a warmed wholemeal Pitta

Tip Six – Dine Early

I have dinner early at around six pm no later than seven and always start with a big glass of water and a helping of Kombucha. This is where I get my beans and pulses and a nice hot meal. I’ll have things like cous cous with a bean tagine, rice and bean stuffed vegetables, grilled meat, always followed by a mixed fruit salad with yoghurt. I always eat at least one banana, one apple, one pear and one orange a day besides other fruits.

Tip Seven – Cravings

If I crave choc I’ll have a low calorie hot choc drink before bed.

If I crave a pudding I’ll have some stewed fruit with cream. Rhubarb and apple are good.

Tip Eight – Hydrate before bed

I always have a pint of water before I go to sleep to keep me hydrated through the night.

Tip Nine – Lower Fat Versions of Favourites

I have picked up some fab recipes from bloggers for lower fat versions of things I really love, like pizza replaced with a pitta bread base and a pastry-less quiche or making curries all about the beans and less about meat.

Tip Ten – Dining Out and Take Away

I have two courses when dining out and go for as healthy options as poss without making myself miserable. If I know dessert is going to be an issue I have a healthy starter instead and drink lots of water throughout the meal and add a glass of wine. I also ask my fellow diners to please consider supporting me by not going for a dessert or at least waiting until I’ve left the table and I have been known to go and sit in the bar while they eat dessert if it’s too tough to resist. Sometimes there is only removal from the temptation that will do.

I also find that if you ask, even if it is not on the menu, many places will knock you up a fruit salad.

When having take out I go for a grilled chicken shish kebab with lots of salad and a little chilli sauce – healthy and not full of fat, still a takeout treat. I avoid all other take out.

If it’s a special occasion or you have been super health eating for weeks then go for it and indulge, it’s what normal people do and they work harder in the gym the next day or tighten up on their food that week to compensate. This has to be sustainable and not make you miserable.

Other General Tips

Preparation is important obsess about food in a good way. Plan ahead, work out menus, buy only ingredients for those menus so you can’t stray, plan for danger times, eg parties, meals out and think about your strategy for coping, or make a decision to not worry about it and deal with it later but make sure you do deal with it later. You will find that once you are in your stride with your routine you won’t even eat as much when you do indulge as you used to. I can’t eat half of what I used to eat and unhealthy food makes its presence known very quickly in a healthy body. It affects energy levels, mood and creates all kinds of gas and toxic waste.

Know that your body can cope with a cake or a scone or a biscuit. It will struggle if you cram in a whole year’s worth. Having one now and then makes you savour it and makes it far more enjoyable than a packet scoffed down mindlessly while watching telly.

If you don’t have much money buy what you can afford. Organic can be expensive but I think of it like this, a cheap kiwi fruit is going to be better for me than a packet of cheap crisps.

Save money by soaking your own beans from dried and add variety by buying mixed cans.

Save time by preparing tomorrow’s lunches while cooking dinner. Prepare granola, harvest wheat grass, tend veg patch,  brew kombucha one day a week. Involve the kids to make it easier, quicker and more fun as well as educational and a great example for them.

Don’t have nasties in the house, you don’t need them and neither do your kids and you are less likely to eat them if you have to go and buy them at 11pm rather than dig them out of the kitchen. Throw all of your junk away or drop it in a food bank.

Don’t beat yourself up if you have a bad food day, just make sure it is stays at one day, work harder on exercise and healthy eating for a couple of days after to get you back on track.

Last but not least… see food as something essential to nourish your body and to fuel it, something which keeps you strong and healthy, helps you fight off disease and illness, gives you energy and good health, keeps your mind alert and all of your vital organs functioning well. If you can enjoy it too then you are winning, but make other things your hobbies. Growing food can be a hobby, eating it shouldn’t be. Find other ways to socialise, instead of meeting a friend for coffee and cake, meet a friend for a good walk around the park or a hike up the nearest hill, or for a swim followed by a big salad lunch and lots of fresh drinking water. 

100 pounds

I’m near this monumental number in terms of weight loss and its taken since April to get here.

One of the images which has kept me going, and anyone who follows me knows I use many visual motivators, is this one.

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This is a picture of what 100lbs of fat looks like. I used this picture after 50lbs loss to spur me on to do the other half of the image and now I’m almost there I’m stunned by how easy it has been to rid myself of the second half of this huge mass of crap I’ve been carrying around.

The first half was a struggle the second wasn’t because I got into some good habits, I learned to love myself, I began to accept help and advice, I started to enjoy being me. The work that went into the first half put me on the crest of a wave and helped me ride that second half in.

I still have a way to go, I still need to shed another half table load of fat at least but I know I can do it, I have no doubt. It will be slower and there will be more struggle ahead as I really put my shoulder to the wheel and get those last pounds off but what I wanted to say was, look at it, look at what I have carried around inside me and know that without starting, without losing that first chunk of fat I would never have cleared this table.

Each one of those chunks was shed one by one. One at a time. Each one of those chunks was my goal and the table just filled with them until this was my achievement. Make your goals small but keep your focus big. You can do it.

If I could lose 50 pounds I could lose 100 and if I can lose 100 pounds I can definitely lose another 5 and so the next phase begins, piece by piece, step by step, just like the beginning.

Beans

I love beans and since I’ve been on this healthy eating, new me journey I’ve come to love them even more and to include them more and more into my diet.

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All manner of beans, pulses and chick peas are now a real feature of my winter warmer recipes. Ever mindful of proving that healthy and wholesome can be done on a budget I’d recommend that one way to make huge savings on including these things into your diet is to avoid buying them pre-prepared in tins or cans and buying them in bulk in their dried forms and preparing them yourself. I figure I get the equivalent of six cans of beans for the price of one by doing the prep from dried myself. I use a wide variety from red kidney beans to big soft butter beans and chick peas, black eyed peas and haricots as well as red and green lentils which I find give some texture and substance to soups in the absence of meat and cream.

Now this can seem like a mess about when we’re so used to just popping a can open, draining and tipping into a bowl or pan but if you plan out your meals you can become quite efficient at planning your bean prep too. I just look at my next week’s food menus at the weekend and have a bean boiling and soaking session, getting my allocation ready then sealing up in plastic tubs with a little filtered salted water covering them. I got a handy set of cannisters which are about the size of a small food can. I usually prepare too many of each so that if I’m looking for a snack I can throw a bean salad together to chomp on. Adding a little home made vinaigrette dressing and a clump of chopped coriander for taste.

Eating beans has reduced my meat intake, something I’m really trying to cut down on. I’d like to cut out red meat altogether but truth is I love it and so I do indulge when I really fancy it rather than a matter of course. It’s not a regular feature on my weekly menu and increasingly meat is taking a back seat to fish, dairy and pulses as my protein source. I think I’ve about got the balance right now and meat is consumed in moderation with red meat a rarity. I’ve also taken to war time rationing practice and get bones from the butcher to use to boil up for tasty broths and stocks so that I get the flavour of meat in soups, stews and casseroles without eating any or buying any. It’s really inexpensive too and far more economical than buying high quality stocks.

Another thing I did with my kids who resist beans was to gradually supplement out minced beef for beans in some of their favourite recipes and little by little they were hooked until now I make chilli with no meat and lasagne with no meat and pasta sauces with no meat just lots of beans and nobody even notices.

I’ve written before on thinking about what we were designed to eat, what was around us ready to just chow down on off the peg and I figured that meat, although our dentition suggests we were intended to eat it, was something we would have had as a bit of a splurge when the guys came back from hunting and that we’d more often than not pad out our diets with what was growing around us and so back to basics for me is about making meat a now and then thing. This goes along nicely with recommendations from the official bodies which tell us what to eat and what not to eat…if you want to take notice of them.

Beans are not unhealthy saturated fatty and they don’t need fat to make them tasty or to cook them, they’re a real versatile winner when you consider that, their low cost and the masses of healthy things they pack into little tiny packets of goodness. Only problem of course is the aftermath…

Don’t forget seeds as well, what I think of as the smaller snacky, additive type bean with no need to cook. Oh and sprouted seeds too which are said to pack a real nutritional punch. Try to get as many and as much variety into your diet as possible, it’s all good natural wholesome stuff.

On their way home

Well I can’t say I’m not relieved to have just heard from my kids that they are awake if very tired still and getting their things together for their flight home.

I really proved how much I am now able to let go of control and agreed to let my daughter take my place on a trip to NYC to take my son to a concert which he loved beyond his capacity to put into words. I’ve been strangely calm about it and have managed to work without constantly ringing them or fretting about where they are or what they are doing. I’ve been grateful for technology and being able to see almost real-time the fun they’ve been having.

However it’s been a big test. Somehow harder than when I was the one on the other side of the Atlantic which was guilt trip enough.

I’m doing well though I’m trusting their capacity for independence and loving that they have clearly loved doing this together. I know now that my companionship for such trips will be less in demand and I guess that’s the correct order of things. I’m not feeling so much like a spare part as I expected and see the benefits of more freedom for myself although it does take some getting used to when you have spent 21 years or more being in constant demand.

I guess in some respects I’m fortunate that my kids chose to arrive a few years apart, it allows you to wean yourself off total immersion mothering. It must hit like a lightening strike when your only child leaves or all of your kids go in quick succession. At least for me this was only a taste of things to come and my son is still a few years off leaving home yet. These tastes are becoming more frequent though and again I guess they are becoming easier as I’m weaned off the concept of him being my baby and being fully dependent on me.

In another sense I am mindful and grateful that I got to see my life’s wish come to pass, near as possible thus far, and got to raise my kids to adulthood. As I woke to the news today of a mother having had to accept that she will lose the battle to remain here to raise her kids who are still babies and who she has very much fought to be with and who very much need her I am feeling privileged to have been given the gift of seeing my kids grow to a point where they are able to fly across the world and to have a great time without me.

Empty nest syndrome is tough for mothers but the nest seems more unnaturally empty when the chicks are still in it and it is the mama bird who has to fly away.

Grateful for being me today, for having my life and my problems, my joys and my blessings.

Losing Weight With a Huge Appetite – My Advice

One of my problems has always been that I just love food. I don’t only eat as an emotional crutch, I do love food. I have a big appetite too and probably have an issue with my cut off valve needing an overhaul.

When I started off on this journey I knew that one of the things that would be really hard to overcome was the hunger from a lack of food. I knew that the more healthy wholesome foods were going to do me good, make me feel better and give me more energy. I knew I could make them tasty and interesting BUT I worried that I would struggle with the small portions and lack of food. History has shown me that a ‘normal’ measure of cereal is less than I’d leave out for a starving mouse.

Now you can go about combating this in three ways (and I’m really talking here to people who have lots of weight to lose who are standing at the bottom of a huge mountain wondering how they are ever going to get to the top).

1. Plan lots of healthy snacks, pre-prepare them to stop yourself from grabbing the wrong stuff, weigh them out and faff with all that baloney – it works for some people and I’m not knocking it but it’s not for me

2. Graze rather than eat three meals a day. Spread your food out so that you are eating little and often rather than sitting down to three small meals a day. Again this works and I have and do practice this at times and it really does help.

Or – my favourite

3. Eat lots of food!

I know some people will say it won’t work but it will. It did, it does, it worked for me. I didn’t worry at all about portion size in the early days (to be honest I don’t worry about it now that much). I thought sensibly about this before and during my current journey and I figured these things:

1. I have A LOT of weight to lose, more than a whole average sized man – I have time to deal with this, it’s going to take a while, nothing is making it happen over night so I took a long term view of my weight loss and a life long view of my diet and lifestyle changes… very very important. When you get that life long perspective it helps you to realise that you have time to tweak things, getting started is the important bit.

2. I had been eating so unhealthily, 70% of my diet at least has been fatty, unhealthy killer food – I decided that I was eliminating ALL of that stuff, all of it, no more will anything remotely fatty touch my lips as a matter of routine. I will allow myself treats but not for the first few weeks at all and then only in moderation, like ‘normal’ people do. So 99.9% of my diet is going to be healthy, nutritious, low calorie food anyway and large portions of that has got to be better than large portions of what I was eating. Let’s face it a plate piled high with a tuna salad is not going to ever add as much fat to my body as a plate piled high with pizza and fries is it? I figured I have to lose weight if I swap out the latter for the former regardless of how much is on the plate right? Right, I did and I never went hungry, I still don’t go hungry. I have odd days where I’m starving and could eat a passing human but I cope with those days by… you guessed it… EATING lots of healthy good stuff!

3. I had not been moving, other than to walk to my car and back but I knew I was going to be moving a lot more, it all started with 20  minutes dancing with the kids (which was more like stepping from one foot to the other but very quickly escalated). So, I’m going to be doing more, which will use up  more calories so who cares if I have a double serving of salad or two pieces of chicken breast or a four egg omelette instead of a 2 egg omelette? What does it matter if my fruit salad has 12 helpings of fruit in it and two fat and sugar free helpings of yoghurt on top? Again I was right because I was full and the weight was coming off.

So that’s it, that’s my tip. Don’t think about portion size if you know it is going to make you hungry, miserable and give in to unhealthy temptations. Just don’t do it. Focus on healthy food and moving more. Forget about amounts of food, seriously just forget about it. Eat until you feel full in those early days, just chow away.

I did this and was losing good chunks of weight in my early journey, I wasn’t miserable, I wasn’t hungry, I wasn’t tempted to give in, I felt full, I was satisfied, I didn’t feel I was depriving myself. And you know what? I planned to address my portion size later down the line once I’d gotten into moving more and eating healthy but I never had to bother. As I became more healthy, more active and more fit and more emotionally stable and more inspired and encouraged by my success, I found my appetite diminished all by itself! I found that I was, for the first time ever, leaving food on my plate uneaten, I was leaving the table before the serving bowls were wiped clean, I was just eating less. I wasn’t using food so much as a crutch anymore, I wasn’t having pangs and cravings so bad, I just didn’t need as much food.

Now and then it comes back, that old feeling of insatiability and I recognise it and try to relate that need to something, is it an emotional need, is it a physical need following serious exercise? I try to figure it out while I’m preparing my food and usually by the time I’ve understood where the craving’s come from it’s gone, before I even get to the table. If it hasn’t gone then I eat a lot that day, but I eat a lot of good stuff.

I also let myself have things I crave. If I suddenly fancy chocolate I have some, but a small amount, which for me might be one normal sized choc bar instead of a family sized one or pack of 6. I don’t do one chocolate button, I’ll do a small packet and that is rare, very rare but when I want to I do it. In the early days I fended off cravings with distraction techniques but then I realised I’d served my time and I could allow myself the odd indulgence. Just be careful that it is rare or an odd occurrence, if it starts becoming a daily thing you are going back down the slope so keep check, don’t let that happen.

I’d advise avoiding all of your demon foods for a couple of months to  wean you off them, some are just addictions and some are even allergies. Allow yourself to start feeling and seeing the benefits of your weight loss, then you are more resilient and can control that temptation better. Also when you crave a snack type food try to get the lowest fat, best quality you can, I go for organic choc high in cocoa solids these days and you can find tiny bars in chocolatiers or you can purchase per chocolate so getting one is no problem. I tell you spending less than you would on your family bar of mass produced choc on one quality, supreme chocolate and sitting savouring every morsel of it is ultimately more satisfying than stuffing a whole bar down your neck.

Look at things differently, keep a healthy perspective, don’t let food or lack thereof make you miserable, you might lose weight more slowly but there are benefits to that… research shows time and again that the slower the more likely you are to keep it off, the slower the less chance of skin saggage, the slower the more likely you are to adopt the changes as real lifestyle changes and habits that you will take on forever not just as a quick fix.

Don’t shock your body and mind into too many changes at once, improve your diet, increase your exercise and gradually everything else will fall into place.

I’ve read a lot of inspirational things while I’ve been blogging and one of those in the early days which really hit home was a guy who said he had 500lbs to lose and he didn’t think he could do it, he knew he couldn’t do it but he thought “You know what, I can’t lose 500lbs but I can lose 5lbs” and when he’d lost 5lbs he thought “I can’t lose 495lbs but I can lose another 5lbs” and when he’d lost that he thought… well you know what he thought and I think at the time I read that he’d lost about 50 of those 5lbs in less than one year he was half way up that mountain of his and going strong.

Boob job or deflated milk jugs?

So many people, literally thousands (OK i’m exaggerating) but enough have asked me if I’m going to have surgery when I reach my goal weight.

I’ve honestly not thought about it, I’m just going to be slim, gorgeous and look much like I did when I was 21 after all… aren’t I?

Oh sh*t, I’m not am I? These people who ask me about surgery know it, and I was oblivious to it, I really thought I was just going to be rejuvenated but I’m facing the fact that I’m not, I’m just going to be the same age as now but thinner… maybe more wrinkled, maybe a little baggy in places. But NO! I’m not, I’m going to shrink perfectly back to the soft, smooth peachy skin I had last time I was slim. Yeah right… well I can try but that was 20 odd years ago.

I’m going to look healthier, my skin is already in better shape than it was a few months ago, I’m all shiny and glowing and healthy and I do look younger (I think you can get to a point where being fat stops making you look younger and starts to age you and I was at that point).

Surgery? Hmmm, not something I’ve thought about. I must say I’m doing all I can to stop my skin sagging, a reason I’m glad to have slowed my weight loss and a thought which consoles me when I had become so used to those large numbers. It’s a really useful justification for not going hell for leather and shedding 5 or 7 pounds a week. This moderate 1-2lb pace my skin can cope with.

Anyway I’m doing all I can to stop my skin sagging because I have consciously thought that I don’t want surgery but I’ve never thought consciously about wanting it. Now I’m thinking might I?

What if I do have this lovely rejuvenated super shiny skinned toned body and my boohoobas are tripping me up? What if I do lose substance? I don’t care so much now. These milking machines have given life and health to my beautiful children, they were worth a bit of sag and droop. But how will I feel about the sag and droop if it worsens… at the minute some of my exercise has had the positive effect of lifting, by no means to their former pert glory but that’s something I accepted years ago as part of motherhood and i saw my changed body as an accomplished self satisfied smug child bearing machine which proudly bore its scars. I’m not sure I’m going to see it any less than that when I get to the end of this path I tread. But might I? When I get there my babies will be adults and the days of engorged cabbage leaved boobs will be well and truly consigned to history, I’ll be on a new phase of existence, one where my kids are grown and I’m not so in demand and consciously 24/7 a mum? Does that day come ever? If so does it make it easier to have those memoires of child rearing nipped and tucked out of existence?

What if I don’t manage to lose all of the belly and some jiggles just above the C-section scars and makes a bid for freedom out of bikini briefs if I move too swiftly? What if my many fold chins leave me eventually with a turkey neck, they’re retracting well so far but what if?

And what of my face? I’ve noticed of late a definite downward droop, very slight at the sides of my mouth where the years of smiling, chomping on food and chattering have worn the muscles to shreds and they are now giving up on me, a bit like the elastic on the knickers of a woman with a weak bladder.

Hmmm, what if? Would I go under the knife? I really don’t think so, I really think at this point in the journey, about half way through, I’m happy with the progress and whilst I am under no illusion that various parts of me are suddenly going to levitate I am happy with my battle scars. I’m happy to have a bit of inevitable wear and tear. I’m not far off 50 and I’ll be closer to it by the time I’m ‘done’. I think I can cope with what I’m going to be left with.

Why people automatically think I’m going to have a boob job (that’t the one they mention most often) I don’t know. None of the people who mention it have had a boob job and they’re around my age, why should I want one just because I’ve lost weight. I ask them if they want one and most of them ‘do but daren’t’. I’m not a big fan of the thought of having bags of some fluid or whatever the heck they whack in there stuck inside my body to be honest. But each to their own.

The one I find myself struggling with though is the face lift… now I think I could maybe go for that, but then I definitely couldn’t in the next minute, then I think maybe, then no again, then i ask myself why I’d be doing it and I don’t know so I say no again, then maybe again.

Then I wonder am I thinking like this because of my diminishing size or would I be thinking of it anyway because of my increasing age? Age is beautiful though. It’s earned. Do i want to cheat myself of something I’ve earned?

I asked my son, shall I get a face lift he said “Get one of those and I’m disowning you because you will look terrifying, they all do”

I asked Nick should I have surgery and he said “I’d rather you were just you, I’m hoping you still have some wiggle and juggle going on somewhere”

I asked my daughter and she sighed and hung up the phone on me.

Did I mention my supportive, loving family before?

Anyone else contemplating this stuff? Thoughts? Anyone been there, done that and got the new bits in their tee shirt?

Paid to lose weight

Now I am every bit in favour of supporting a fellow weight struggler to lose a few pounds and raise money for a good cause through a bit of sponsorship but the latest idea from the UK government … I’m not so sure of.

Forgive the use of the Daily Mail Article but it was the most succinct and less waffly than some but does seem to have its facts right.

The idea is that money is made available to employers to give to staff who lose weight. This is to encourage overweight people at work to lose weight and get in better shape, which is great, no denying that. But, and this is just my opinon,  they should want to do it for the health benefits or even the aesthetic benefits, not because they will get a few extra quid in the pay packet.

I see all kinds of problems with this – what about unemployed fat people, what about self employed fat people, what about fat people who are house wives/husbands… it’s not fair to only put some kind of carrot and stick incentive in front of the employed, and that will be a cry going up no doubt. Other commentators have already suggested that it would be of greater use to incentivise fat people to lose weight who are unable to find work due to obesity related issues either physical or mental and I might agree more with that line of thought.

Another issue is who would be considered for the ‘scheme’. Would someone have to be clinically obese, morbidly or super morbidly obese or is it just for anyone overweight? Would there be tons of “I’m so fat I need to lose 5lbs” skinnies claiming extra dosh for having shed a couple of pounds of lean flesh?

And would it be claimable only once? What happens when the incentives run dry and the pounds go back on, can they go through the cycle again? Indeed if the payout is significant enough it might become a nice little minimum wage top up and worth yo-yoing for.

Might some people find it humiliating to be labelled as a recipient of fat cash at work? Perhaps have their HR dept know their weight and have other people discussing their weight loss as part of monthly departmental budget meetings?

What exactly are the payments for? What is the point of them? Does the ‘expert’ who has come up with this idea really think that people who struggle with serious eating disorders are going to suddenly start to lose weight if someone gives them money to do so? It might work for some but not for the ones with a real problem. Would they throw money at anorexics and bulimics and tell them to start eating normally and they might get a fiver?

It has already thrown fuel onto the fat haters flame and I’ve seen various comments from people on social media slamming fat people for being greedy, lazy b******s who are now going to leech off the state when they already cost the state enough in NHS treatments blah blah blah… the usual but now with more venom squirted on like paraffin onto a barbeque to keep everything nicely ablaze. Like fat people asked for this?

On a positive note, I like that it is about employers taking some kind of action or making some kind of provision to encourage health and wellbeing for their staff. I agree that too many staff canteens serve greasy, fried crap and having worked for Renault (car company) and the NHS there was a stark difference between the canteen menus.  Healthy options in the NHS (in my experience) are not exactly appealing or imaginative and usually consist of a bit of dried up looking salad whereas the French company seemed to get it that healthy could be appetising. Besides that, you won’t have to look far in any NHS hospital for boxes of chocolates and packets of biscuits and cakes waiting for staff break time, be it on wards or in offices.

It’s not the norm in these parts for employers to offer any kind of gym provision, or membership incentive either, that tends to be the stuff of city employers. NHS staff do get lots of discounts and no doubt could get 10% off a gym membership locally perhaps and the local college offers membership of their gym at a reasonable rate to staff but it’s not widespread practice. I don’t know how employers could ‘force’ staff to take advantage of such facilities if they were available. It would be the same old scenario which prevents fat people from going to any gym… full of skinny people looking down on them.  Would an obese person be happy to be seen sweating it out in all his or her bouncy glory opposite one of their svelte colleagues? Not convinced they would. If healthy options were run of the mill at the work canteen would a fat person take advantage of that or just bring in the choc and crisps to hide in the drawer? Probably.  I don’t mean to sound defeatist here, I’m just being real and honest. When you have a problem with food, or any other addiction you just find ways of hiding it or skirting around attempts to help you.

Maybe I’m sceptical but I think it takes more than a few quid and a cheap gym membership to make someone change habits of a lifetime. It can take a lot of courage to go eat in the canteen at all for a fat person and even then we are faced with a dilemma, “if I eat burger and chips people will think I’m a fat, greedy, lazy pig but if I eat a salad people will think I’m a fat, greedy, lazy pig eating a salad pretending I don’t want burger and chips”.

It can take a lot of courage for a fat person to go to the gym too, once you start going you realise that most people are not looking at you, it’s only the odd rare person who is cruel enough to take video and post it online and you’re likely never to come across anyone like that, but that first step into the gym is the hard bit. We fat people are quite clever, we usually can find our way to a gym, we know where they are in our neighbourhoods, we know that exercise will help us but it’s what is going on in the head that is the problem, not whether there is a discount available or a gym next to our office.

Perhaps awareness raising would be better, perhaps if fat people had some counselling to consider why they use food as a drug, or to start to build some confidence and self worth instead of lectures on healthy diet and exercise, maybe that could be a way forward. And how about this radical idea, that staff in general are educated about obesity and how it is often the symptom of an eating disorder and how about they start to treat larger colleagues with a bit more sensitivity and understanding so that they felt able to go to the ‘staff’ gym and felt confident enough to eat in the canteen without people staring at their salad laden plate? Just an idea.

It will work for people who are not suffering from eating disorders, it will work temporarily for those people and maybe for obese people but it’s not a long term solution for anybody really. But that’s just my opinion, what’s yours?

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