I’ve had a few questions about weight loss lately, and it’s something I don’t talk much about. For most women (and men) your weight might be a bit personal or maybe even an issue for you. I never really struggled with my weight until about two years ago when I lost track of exactly how much pasta and comfort food I was eating. For the first time in my life, I got properly chubby. I started running and eating right and I went on this eating plan that really worked for me. I joined a gym, I ran a half marathon and I started toning up and doing some yoga too. This year I also tried juicing, which was great and that worked too. All of these things worked to some degree and helped me feel better about myself and get in to shape a bit more. I don’t think that I will keep running half marathons, or keep doing yoga (I haven’t in months) because what I’ve noticed about myself is that I really love chopping and changing and experimenting and trying new things. I’ll just be like “I’m gonna cut out sugar for 21 days and see what happens” or “I’m gonna just drink juice for 7 days and see what happens” and treat my body a bit like a gadget – something I can test at different levels. My Paris trip is getting pretty close, so I asked a friend for advice on how to drop it like it’s hot. So right now, I’m doing:
No carbs. No sugar. No dairy.
And I am so flippen surprized at how easy it is. Note, I’m not banting. I don’t think? Well not on purpose. I think a lot of people assume that, but I’m not doing high fat, oil or cream or anything like that. I do healthy fats like avocado, eggs and fish… But that’s about it. It’s almost exactly the same diet that I did last year when I lost all that other weight. From Tuesday – Saturday I lost 3kg. I know that the weight loss will slow down, or possibly come back if I go back on carbs and sugar full time… but right now I am just playing around with this eating plan and seeing where it goes. My only cheat is that I have one cup of coffee a day with half a sugar. It’s my morning ritual, even if it’s decaf coffee… and hopefully eventually I’ll be able to take no sugar at all. So out of all the diets and experimenting and testing and playing I’ve done, here’s what I’ve learned about losing (and gaining) weight.
1. It took hundreds of meals for you to gain weight, so don’t think it’s going to take a dozen to lose all of it. The time you spent gaining that weight is the time you’ll spend (or should spend) losing it. Don’t try lose 10kg in 2 weeks – think more along the lines of 4 – 6 months. You might yo-yo in between, too.
2. If you aren’t drinking at least 10 glasses of water a day, you’re gonna take a while to see results. Your body needs water to help flush out toxins, and it keeps you full. Most of the time when I think I’m hungry, I’m actually thirsty. Drinking water while you eat also helps you eat less as you’ll feel satisfied much faster. Also, it makes your skin look great and supple, so drink up! I’ve swapped my zillion cups of tea a day for water with fresh lemon wedges.
3. You can still drink alcohol, but stick to dry wine with low sugar content. Or whiskey – whichever.
4. You need to do some serious movement for at least 45 minutes a day. Brisk walking, running, cycling, skipping, swimming – whatever your thing is.
5. You need to eat close to the earth. I haven’t eaten anything with a label and dammit it feels good. Fresh fish from my grocer, eggs, avo, vegetables, salads, soups. Apart from tinned tuna, it’s all fresh and new and organic and hormone free. Also: sugar free.
6. So many times when I felt like “I really want a cup of tea” my body was actually saying “I really want two spoons of sugar”. I didn’t want caffeine, I wanted the sweet stuff. My first two days without sugar was filled with headaches and fogginess. Sugar withdrawals are intense and it’s hard to pull through. If you want to test your body, eliminate sugar from your diet for 3 days and you’ll see just how powerful it is. Do it just for fun! (is it weird that I find this kinda stuff fun?)
7. Never eat until you’re full. Ever. Eat until just before you’re full because the fullness will come a few minutes after you stop eating. Stand up and move away from the table / your plate when you’re done eating.
8. Eat healthy fats otherwise you’ll starve. Also, if you eat healthy fats then you might not (I don’t) get cravings for bread or sweets. I’m not saying that bread and sweets are the devil, because they’re NOT, but I think they should be viewed as treats for some people, and not a daily staple. I eat a lot of eggs, avo and fish. For the moment, I’ve stopped eating fruit and view these as bread and sweets now too. Special treats.
9. Try keep a 2-ingredient plate. Eg Just avo and an egg. Or just green beans and carrots. Simplifying my food and going back to basics and eating them in their true, raw form has been such a treat for me. After spending years working with complicated dishes at home and at restaurants, containing dozens of ingredients per plate… I find great minimalist comfort in placing two clean ingredients on a plate and eating them straight away.
10. Subsidize with vegetable juices and smoothies. I order a ‘lifestyle’ juice pack from a local company every month and keep them in the freezer for days when I know I’m going to be busy or running around. They fill you up and they’re full of goodness. Juices have saved me from many garage pies.
So right now, a typical day for me is:
Breakfast: Half an avo & boiled egg OR Fried mushrooms & a boiled egg
Snacks: I drink so much water now that I don’t really snack, but if I do, I have a few baby carrots
Lunch: Tin of tuna & half an avo OR 2 eggs & grilled mushroom & tomato OR Tuna and green beans
Dinner: Grilled hake or kingklip or salmon with a green veg – broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts or cucumber NOTE > don’t eat dinner after 7pm. I eat supper at 5:30 or 6pm every day
If you’re super serious about losing weight and want to see the initial results pretty fast, then I’d suggest something along these lines depending on your current health / BMI and recommendations from your doctor. Medicine and hormones also affect weight gain and loss, so check these with your doctor too. I’m dead set on eating this way for good now, because without daily carbs, I haven’t been feeling bloated. Without sugar, I haven’t been getting weird cravings. I was never in to dairy in a big way, but I’m mildly lactose intolerant, so I won’t miss it at all.
I’ll still have a pizza now and then, and the odd frozen yoghurt or chocolate of course – but only for 10% of the time, I’d say. I’ll still go to the movies and order a popcorn every other week. But I want to eat like this every day. Back to basics, close to the earth, simple and unprocessed. For now! It’s an ongoing adventure, this health quest thing. Yesterday afternoon I was in a bicycle shop and I was like… “I could totally be a cyclist.” As long as we keep trying and keep active, I think we’ll all do alright.
But come now guys, you don’t need me to tell you that vegetables, salad, lean protein, water and exercise is the way to eat and lose weight for good. Hope you enjoyed the reminder. And if you’re gonna tease health conscious people when you’re eating mac n cheese or chocolate, remember that most health-kick people have usually felt the hard side of eating those empty foods every day for years… and we have no desire to feel that way about ourselves again. AND if you’re one of those “I can eat all the junk I want and always stay healthy and feel great” people – I am genuinely and completely happy for you, I am. Pretty please remember that you need not have a high BMI or even be overweight to have cholesterol issues. We all need our yearly checks to ensure that we’re doing right by our bodies. Keep checking those numbers – all of us! Have a happy, healthy weekend guys! This photo of me taken by Keri Bainborough yesterday, and I love it (and her)