Losing and gaining weight

In 2010, I successfully lost a bit of weight with Diet Chef – so much so that when I bought a tailored suit for getting married in, I confidently told the tailor I would lose more weight. At my thinnest, I was 94kg. I stopped with the diet with a months worth of food left uneaten, as poor motivation took over. The suit didn’t fit great at the wedding.

By the start of 2012, I was over 100kg. The suit was a struggle to do up.

Somehow, during teaching practice, fourteen weeks from January to May this year, not counting the school holidays, I got down to 92kg, the lowest I have been in some considerable time. (My target weight is 75kg, the weight I was in 1999, which felt fat at the time.) My prompt for getting back on the scales was putting the suit back on for an interview and discovering the waistband was ridiculously loose. Ten kilos off translated to 8cm off my belly.

I lost weight on TP in the following ways, I think: leaving the house so early in the morning I was not ready for breakfast; sometimes being too nervous to eat for most of the day; and once, having to stop the car to be sick on the way to work. More positively, eating packed lunches every day and mostly making them very healthy: a graze box, 2 or three pieces of fruit and a sandwich made from 2 pieces of bread.

That last bit sounds vaguely healthy – but it also led to being ravenously hungry by 4 or 5pm and many nights stopping for desperately unhealthy fast food on the way home. So quite how that all added up to ten kilos of weight loss is a bit of a mystery.

I reweighed this evening and the weight is coming back on. The current phase of teacher training is less nerve racking than actually teaching every day, and there are too many opportunities for biscuits and cake in the staffroom. The same packed lunch that was too much food on TP is now not really seeing me through till morning break.

Dietchef had positives and negatives. On the bad side: it was expensive. I didn’t really like the food. What came in what they had the cheek to call a “hamper” was not all you eat as it needed supplementing with salad and other fruit and veg. The meals were odd. Essentially it was porridge or cereal for breakfast, soup for lunch and something sloppy like a casserole or pasta and sauce for tea. There were various fake chocolate, fake biscuit and fake other things for additional snacks and milkshakes as well.

Tomorrow's misery pouches

I got into the habit of calling them misery pouches. Although a few were quite nice, it was a real struggle to eat them and not find almost anything else to eat instead.

I think what it gave me most of all was a better understanding of calorie counting. Because you had to eat both the pouches and regular food, you had to count quite carefully. So I do now know for certain that if I can stick to 1500 calories a day for a few weeks I do lose weight.

Some of the surprises with counting was pasta, potatoes and bread. You really do not need much to get up to staggering quantities of calories. My standard day used to be two pieces of toast with butter and jam, and two pieces of bread at lunchtime as a sandwich. But if each piece of bread is the best part of 100 calories, 4 of them is almost a third of your daily allowance. Best cut one lot out.

It does seem though that if you eat a sensible amount of porridge for breakfast, with no syrup or cream, and base your lunch around soup – any soup – and fruit you will be eating healthily and constraining your calories without trying too much. There’s no need for them to be expensive special diet porridge or diet soup as almost all porridge and soup is low calorie.

This understanding is still very much theoretical, of course, I haven’t actually put the knowledge to use consciously to lose weight.

Another weird and annoying part of the Dietchef régime was that it was set up for women who have a lower calorie requirement – so the basic Dietchef day was a 1200 calorie diet. Men and those who have more weight to lose – and I was in both categories – get more. So they suggest you have a 200 calorie milkshake and then 200 more calories to find yourself. I have to say that the milkshake just seemed to me to be a complete waste of calories. Milkshakes do not normally play any part in my diet, least of all manky UHT box horrid bleirgh milkshakes. If I have to get 200 calories from a drink, what’s wrong with beer?

At the time, living off ready meals was a hardship. Perhaps I ought to reconsider using that approach next term when I might again be too busy to cook properly?

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5 comments on “Losing and gaining weight

  1. Sarah Swindell says:

    Keep going Alex. I lost some weight* by walking more and eating less bread and other carbohydydrates, and reducing portion size. And I kept a diary of what I ate for a week and what I was feeling/doing at the time – you can track times you’re more likely to eat. If it’s just eating for the sake of eating, bring a pot of cucumber or bits of apple to snack on. It’s way too easy to get a bag of crisps, distracting yourself with something else helps.
    *there’s quite a way to go yet.

  2. Penny says:

    Soup is amazing. I saw a TV prog a while back where they served one group of squaddies a normal meal with a glass of water and a second group had the same meal and water but whizzed up into soup. They then went off on one of their ‘exercises’. Some hours later the first group were hungry and flagging. The second still had food in their stomachs and could carry on without further food.
    It seems odd because you’d think soup was more easily digested than lumps of food but apparently it stays in your stomach longer and keeps you going longer.

  3. Mum says:

    The only real way to lose weight AND KEEP IT OFF is to change eating habits for good – easier said than done! Try eating more, smaller meals? Keep a box of things like raw carrot/celery/apple (anything with crunch) at hand for “picking” at. If things are harder to eat, then they usually take longer to eat!!

  4. Mum says:

    PS The older you get, the harder it gets to get the weight off 😦

  5. Soph says:

    Weightwatchers is working for me. Lost nearly 3 stone so far. It’s taken me over a year (probably could have been quicker if I’d been more disciplined) but, as one of the other comments said, it’s all about a lifestyle change rather than a diet.

    Also running helps…this time last year I think I was on week 2 of couch to 5k; my third 10k race of 2012 is in 6 weeks!

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