An inspiring woman on the Healthy Weight Forum named Barbara has given us all the best incentive ever, to get serious and lose our weight as soon as we can.
This is her Story. It's in three parts and pretty long so get comfortable and go grab a cuppa or two first.
How I Learned how NOT to choose a diet
Okay, so youâ€™ve decided you need to lose some weight, or your doctor has told you to lose it. Where do you start? How do you know which diet to choose? Hopefully, I can enlighten you on how NOT to choose.
Firstly, donâ€™t rush in where angels fear to tread. Thoroughly check out the diets you think may help, think about them, and ask yourself â€œCan I do this over a long period of time? Will it suit my time schedule? Can I afford it?â€ and the main question to ask yourself is â€œIS IT WELL BALANCED?â€
Iâ€™ve been fighting fat in the battle of the bulge for over 40 years â€“ almost my entire life, and have tried many and varied diets. From Bananas and milk for every meal (blah!) to considering having my stomach stapled. I intend to tell you how Iâ€™ve NOT fared with most of them.
I remember when I was in my very early teens, that banana and milk diet. All sorts of claims were made that together they provided one with the desired daily intake of everything to keep you fit and healthy. After 6 days of nothing but bananas and milk, I couldnâ€™t face another banana or another glass of milk â€“ I didnâ€™t even like milk anyway. So, I gave up, and on went the weight I had lost, as well as a bit more. That didnâ€™t work!
When I was about 17 I was told of a boiled egg diet, where all you ate were two boiled eggs for every meal. Nothing else. After about two weeks of boiled eggs, I couldnâ€™t look at another one for about 2 years. I gave up. On went the weight that I had lost, as well as a bit more.
In the ensuing years I have tried the Hollywood diet and the Beverley Hills diet, which are almost identical â€“ they didnâ€™t work either. I tried the Mediterranean diet, that didn't work either. With each one, I lost weight, and then it all came back on again when I stopped. Each time it came back, it brought a little more with it. I was just getting bigger and bigger.
I tried Weight Watchers, and that was a better one, I lasted 4 months the first time I went on it and lost around 3-4 stones, but we were on a one person income with three small kids, and it got so I just couldnâ€™t afford the right foods, so I went off it. The weight came back, along with a bit more.
Then I thought the cabbage soup diet was the answer â€“ I ended up in hospital with that one! Donâ€™t know how, but I was very ill, nearly lost my life, so that put me off the cabbage soup diet. Back came the weight, bringing a little more with it.
Jenny Craig was next to attract my attention. After paying an initial fee of $400AU to join, I found that I couldnâ€™t stomach the tinned food and the powdered eggs, they turned my stomach. The â€œpsychologistâ€ told me I wasnâ€™t trying, so I told her to â€œshove itâ€ (which I guess wasnâ€™t very nice of me), and gave up Jenny. Back came the weight, bringing a little more with it.
I was just getting bigger and bigger, it was getting hard to walk, and I had arthritis in my knees. I was puffed just by walking briskly to the letter-box â€“ and I was truly getting worried about my health.
I kept on trying all the great new â€œdietsâ€ that appeared in the magazines â€“ â€œLose 4 dress sizes in time for summerâ€, â€œEat all you like and lose weightâ€ (yeah â€“ NOT), I had pills prescribed by my doctor, counted calories, did all I was capable of doing, and still nothing was working. I was getting desperate. I even fasted for up to 4 days a week. Of course, as soon as I went back to eating, back came the weight, plus a bit more!
I tried the Atkins diet â€“ ketone sticks and all â€“ worked for a while, but missed my carbs too much, and went off it. Back came the weight, plus a bit more. I asked myself â€œWhere do I go from here?â€ The arthritis had spread to my hips, ankles, wrists, elbows and shoulders. When I walked my back went into painful spasms, I was deeply depressed and wanted to die. I couldnâ€™t see the point in living if I was just going to be a big fat aching slob for the rest of my life.
Then I was diagnosed with adult on-set diabetes (type 2). I found my back was sore because I had prolapsed disks which were pressing on the nerves in my back, including my sciatic nerve which caused severe pain down the back of my left leg. If I were a horse, the vet would have put me down â€“ and I almost wished I were a horse. Except for 3 small things. By this time, I had 2 beautiful granddaughters and a grandson. I wanted to see them grow up.
I was 53 in he year 2000. I weighed in at 187kg â€“ that is a lot of weight for a woman of my height â€“ 5â€™3â€. I had been in a wheelchair for 4 years, because it was just too painful to walk. I had had 2 major bowel operations, resulting in constant diahorreah, and was taking up to 17 tablets 3 times a day, 8 of them to stop the diahorreah. I had an â€œapronâ€ of fat on the bottom of my abdomen that hung over my knees. In summer all the creases between the rolls of fat would sweat and become red and sore, I was depressed, miserable, hated myself, and tried to hide myself from the world.
My doctor referred me to a surgeon, who agreed to remove the apron of fat â€“ when he did it weighed 15kg. I was still humungously overweight, but I felt better about myself, and began to watch what I was eating. Slowly, the weight began coming off.
I have discovered that the word â€œdietâ€ can have quite the opposite effect on some people, myself included. As soon as I went on a diet, I became obsessed with food. What I would eat, when I would eat it â€“ food filled my every thought. So I decided that I would never again use the diet word in my vocabulary. The word â€œprogramâ€ had the same effect on me, so that was tossed too.
Today I eat healthily, since the operation I have lost 72kg, 85kg altogether, and still I have between 40 and 50kg to go. I have not set a goal weight as such, nor will I, because I have to take into consideration my age, as well as my height and frame. I believe my body will know when it is the ideal weight I should be and will maintain itself, as long as I follow what I have been doing in the past three years.
I found that in life there has to be balance. When that balance isnâ€™t there, things run out of control. I was eating far too much fatty food â€“ I loved fried things, such as fish and chips, potato chips, etc. - especially with batter. Now I eat grilled fish and oven fried chips, I avoid potato chips, only having a few with dip at parties.
Iâ€™ve never had problems with sweet things, as I prefer savoury, but have learned to avoid pastries as much as possible. Iâ€™ve a huge collection of low-fat recipe books, and use them to the greatest advantage for the entire family. My husband has type 2 diabetes as well, and he has the sweetest tooth I know â€“ so I make him low-fat sweets a couple of times a week so he wonâ€™t feel heâ€™s missing out.
The balance continues into the drinking of lots of water â€“ we put in a water machine, like they sometimes have in offices and waiting rooms. The water is delicious and always cold, I try to drink at least 8 glasses a day. I use fruit and vegetables in season, and lots of them. I cook red meat only once or sometimes twice a week, and have chicken or fish the other times. Vegetarian about once a week. The family hasnâ€™t complained, they seem to have got used to the changes.
Along with the changes in the eating habits, comes exercise. I used to hate exercise and wouldnâ€™t do it. Being in a wheelchair for 7 years showed me how much I wanted to exercise, how much my body needed it. Now, thank God, I am out of the wheelchair, and although I canâ€™t jog, or even walk briskly, I can walk. I can walk around the supermarket, I can take the dog for short walks around the neighbourhood. It is an incredible feeling to know that I can walk, after 7 years being in that chair. Donâ€™t ever take your abilities for granted, you just donâ€™t know how much you appreciate them when you donâ€™t have them any more.
The other balance you need, along with healthy eating and exercise, is emotional balance. This is the hardest of them all, I think. Being overweight, in pain, unable to do everyday things like sweeping the floor, or making the bed, made me very very depressed. I have been depressive all my life, and these things did not improve it. I had to start thinking positively â€“ no more â€œI canâ€™tâ€. Success comes in â€œcansâ€. I can sweep the floor, I can make the bed, I can do the washing â€“ I can walk the block with the dog. The more I told myself â€œI canâ€ the more I could, and the more I could, the better I felt. Emotionally, I was a mess. The least little thing would send me off my head. My temper was uncontrollable. I have learned to be more tolerant, to control my temper and not let it control me, and I have become a much better person all round.
I knew things were getting better when my eldest granddaughter said, â€œYou are always happy now, grandma, not grumpy like you were.â€ Her words made the entire struggle worthwhile.
These are really just a few of my experiences. As time goes on, I will share more and more in Barbaraâ€™s Corner, but remember, if you are really serious about changing your lifestyle, your eating and exercise habits, please take my advice and consult your Doctor first, just to make sure you are okay. There are many out there who do not yet know they are diabetic for instance. I went to the doctor thinking I had a bladder infection, the diagnosis was Type 2 Diabetes. My husband thought he needed new glasses, again the diagnosis was Type 2 Diabetes. So donâ€™t hesitate, it is controllable with the correct diet and exercise, and with the help of a Diabetes Educator and a dietitian.
These professionals will help you even if you donâ€™t have anything wrong, as they will tell you which are the best foods and in which balance, in order for you to lose weight. The longer you leave it, the harder it is to come off, so donâ€™t dilly-dally, if you are serious, you should start now! Also, donâ€™t do it for anyone else but yourself. I always got resentful when I thought I had to lose weight just to please someone, or to â€œlook the partâ€ or be â€œone of the crowdâ€. It wasnâ€™t until I decided for myself, and for my ongoing health, that I started to succeed where before I had failed. When it comes to your lifestyle, make YOU the one you need to please.
Donâ€™t be afraid of exercise. Three of the best exercises for anyone are walking, cycling and swimming. If you canâ€™t do all, do what you can s often as you can. You will be amazed at how much you come to enjoy doing these things. If you want to add to these by jogging, running, or going to the gym, etc. go for it â€“ the more you do the better you feel eventually, but donâ€™t rush in, start off easy if you havenâ€™t already been exercising, and do a little bit more each day until you reach your exercise goal. Many people have gone on to lifting weights, etc., but donâ€™t feel you have to, only if you want to. Just make sure that whatever regime you choose, do it regularly.
Next time, I will share some more with you. Until then, I hope you have found some useful tips on how not to choose a diet, and how to go about it in a healthy sensible way.
â€˜Til next time
How I Got To Be So Overweight
Negativity, for a person trying to lose weight, is soul-destroying. It comes from all sides, and can even seem positive at times.
As a child, the kids at school would chant such flattering things as, â€œFattyâ€, â€œFatsoâ€, â€œCorpyâ€ (this after we were taught the meaning of the word â€œcorpulentâ€). They never picked me for their sporting sides, because I couldnâ€™t run as fast as them due to the weight, and try as I might, I could never reach that coveted acceptance that I craved. My answer to that was comfort eating! Having a mother who was a pastry cook and who had scrimped through the Depression years didnâ€™t help. We were never allowed to leave even a crumb on our plates, and she would heap them too high. I found my solace through eating, and I have to say that her baking was mouth-watering to say the least.
When mum finally realized I was overweight, (something I had known since the age of about 4), she would then harp â€“ there is no other word for it â€“ harp at me. â€œYou are too fat! Stop eating so much!â€ etc. then she would expect me to clean up that plate thoroughly at the next meal. I became confused as to what I was supposed to do. She took to giving me just fruit, perhaps an apple and an orange, for lunch, which then made me feel even more different to the other kids, because they all had sandwiches, or pies, or whatever.
I just grew unhappier, and fatter, with each passing day. Every day became a nightmare for me, being teased mercilessly by the kids at school, and then going home to mixed messages from my mother. I was depressed, confused, and often wished I could die.
The years passed, and after High School I got a job, much to my motherâ€™s surprise. She had told me no-one would employ me as I was too fat. However, the local council decided I was a good enough stenographer to employ me, and I was happy and secure in that job. However, I still managed to get fatter, because of mumâ€™s harping. She would feed me with all the wrong sorts of foods then say â€œAny wonder youâ€™re fat! Look at what youâ€™re eating!â€ Also, my sister was killed at work, and the effect it had on me was to look for comfort in the only thing I had ever found it â€“ food. Her death also made mum rather paranoid, so when I decided I wanted to move and share a flat with a friend, she couldnâ€™t handle it, and to save ever more harping, I decided Iâ€™d stay home with her and dad. Looking back, I realize I should have gone ahead and done it, but we always see things better in hindsight.
After my dad died, mum became even more possessive of me. I was 21 and she hated me even going to work! I had a nervous breakdown, it had all finally got too much for me, and still I opted to eat my troubles away. Not long afterwards, mum died, and even though we had our differences, I was knocked sideways, because that left me entirely alone in the world, as all our relatives were in England or Ireland. We came to Australia when I was about 6 years old.
I was engaged at the time to my now husband, and so about 3 months after mum died, we got married, and I got pregnant with our son fairly quickly. I was absolutely happy for the first time I could remember, and all through my pregnancy, I lost weight, so when I finally had him, I was actually lighter than when I got married. The same thing happened when I had my first daughter, then my second daughter.
After the birth of my third child I was talked into very reluctantly having my tubes cut and tied by my mother-in-law. She decided three was enough, and although I really didnâ€™t want to, with both her and then my husband, who was often swayed by her, telling me it was for the best, I agreed to have it done. I started putting weight back on.
When my youngest daughter was 7, she died very suddenly at home one Sunday night. She was crying, and whilst crying she vomited, and instead of coming out of her mouth, she inhaled it, and suffocated. We didnâ€™t know what had happened, and we just could not understand why she just died like that. There was no sign of choking, or lack of air, she just quietly stopped breathing! I was devastated! On went more and more weight.
The weight just kept piling on from then on over the next 18 years. The more I ate, the fatter I got, the fatter I got, the more depressed I got, the more depressed I got, the fatter I got, it was just a vicious circle and I had no idea how to get out of it. I had many well-meaning people tell me about the latest diet out, and believe me I tried all of them, none of them worked for me. I also had others tell me that I brought it on myself and didnâ€™t try to lose it (which was only a half-truth â€“ I may have brought in on myself, but I certainly did try to lose it). I had others telling me I would die if I didnâ€™t do anything about it, and they either couldnâ€™t or wouldnâ€™t see that I didnâ€™t know what to do about it. I had tried all I knew, and some, but no-one who criticized me had the answer any more than I did.
Finally at age 53, and weighing 187kg, I saw a doctor who suggested weight loss surgery. Both he and I agreed that stomach banding was the thing to do in this situation, so off I went with my doctorâ€™s referral to see a surgeon. Somehow, things got a bit mixed up about here, and instead of seeing a surgeon who performed this operation, I was finally seen by a plastic surgeon, who said he would remove my â€œapronâ€, a great amount of fat that hung from my lower abdomen like an apron â€“ it was so big it covered my knees.
I agreed to this, and a couple of months later underwent the operation. The amount of fat removed from me at that time weighed 15kg, and even though I still had 172kg to lose, I somehow felt empowered to try to do it healthily, and not have the stomach banding done.
It is three years since that operation, and I now weigh 101.4kg, which makes my total loss in those 3 years 85.6kg. I am very proud of this, even though I am still very much overweight, and need to lose around 40-45kg, I am proud of myself. I have changed my lifestyle, and my eating habits, and now try to eat only healthy foods. I have adult onset diabetes due to the weight, but the doctor and dietician both agree that it can change back to normal as I lose more weight. I was in a wheelchair for 7 years, due to the weight aggravating the osteoarthritis in my joints, but since April this year, I have not needed the wheelchair. I can walk around the house, I can walk around the supermarket. I canâ€™t do quite as much exercise as I would like due to the arthritis, but I can do a whole lot more than I could before.
So that brings me to today. What am I like today? I am 56 now, still need to lose more weight, but feeling so much better both in myself and about myself. I can buy dresses off the hook, before I had to make huge â€œtentsâ€ which I hated with a passion. I can wear skirts and tops, something I hadnâ€™t done in years. I can do the cooking and the washing and sweep the floors, thus saving my dear husband more work on top of what he already does. I am happier, I can actually play with my grandchildren without giving up out of breath within 5 minutes! It is wonderful to be alive, and to see them growing up so beautifully! I am working one or two days a week in my church office, I feel useful again, and the depression is under control.
I never tell anyone they are fat, or tell them about the latest diet, instead I encourage them and help them find their good points, and if they ask, I encourage them to eat healthy foods, and they appreciate it.
Each one of us has a story, some are horrific! What I found I had to do was forget all that had gone before, and forge a new life for myself, a life where I am in control of my feelings, I am in control of what I eat, and I am the person I try to please, not each and every person who passes by!
Today, I am a much more happy and fulfilled person that I have been in my entire life.
My Low GI Diet
Iâ€™ve been on a low GI (glycemic index) diet for some time now, and although slow, the weight is coming off gradually.
At first I knew nothing about this â€œnew fangledâ€ diet, but fortunately I have a friend whose husband is also on the low Gi diet, and she gave me heaps of tips to help. He, by the way, has lost heaps of weight. How come men seem to be able to lose it so much quicker than we women? Not fair!
Iâ€™ve come to learn that potatoes are high GI, whilst sweet potatoes (kumara) are low. Thatâ€™s okay, as I love kumara and have found quite a few good recipes using them. White is not good, I have discovered. Wholegrain breads are best, and even better if a bit of oat bran is added to homemade. Oat bran added to just about anything helps lower the GI of the foods you eat. Iâ€™ve had it in muffins, pancakes, soups and stews, you name it! Of course, Iâ€™ve added it to my breads as well. You donâ€™t know it is there, but it does lower the GI so much.
Low GI foods donâ€™t break down in the intestines as quickly as the high GI ones. Therefore, the sugar doesnâ€™t come in a rush, forcing blood sugar levels up. The low GI foods break down slower, and therefore the sugar is released more slowly, resulting in more stable and even blood sugar readings â€“ essential for diabetics! Since starting on the diet, my blood sugar levels have been soooooo much better than before. They were much too high previously. Also my blood pressure seems to have stabilized.
So basically, the low GI diet means low carbs in the main. Remember that white is bad, full grain is good. Basmati rice is about the best for Glycemic index, rather than brown. It is about the one exception.
We have had more pasta meals, with wholemeal pasta, and tomato based sauces. Sometimes I mix potatoes with my sweet potatoes, to keep the GI down a bit.
All in all, I am feeling much better in myself. Losing weight, though slowly, and rejoicing in the fact that my blood sugar and pressure are more normal. Also, it is great to know that I donâ€™t have to deprive myself totally of things I really love. I can indulge myself occasionally with an ice-cream or some chocolate, without going overboard. (All things in moderation).
Although the weight loss in my case is slow, I think that it is better for me than some of the other diets I have tried in the past, which have done nothing much except make be feel deprived and miserable. At least now I am happy.
Low GI recipes are a bit hard to come by, but they are beginning to increase, and I have found some good ones on the web.
I like this eating plan, it suits me!
Click Here for a Low Glycemic Food List http://www.southbeach-diet-plan.com/low ... odlist.htm