Dieting, Dieting sites and losing weight …

So … I’m overweight.  I’ve been overweight for years and years.  It didn’t happen all at once, it kinda crept up on me.  Initially I blamed the washing machine for shrinking my stuff, or Christmas (or any other special event) for putting on a little extra.  I had friends who were heavier than me and seemed happy, and decided that it didn’t matter what I looked like, as long as I was happy.

But there’s the thing … overall I was still generally happy, but I was restricting myself more and more as to what I would and wouldn’t do – the heavier I became, the less active I  wanted to be … I didn’t want to go out, because I didn’t want to show how exhausted I was when I walked up that little hill; I didn’t want to go shopping because I struggled to find clothes that fit; I didn’t want to wear short skirts or short sleeved tops because I didn’t want to show off my arms and legs … and this was all compounding the weight gain.

I was overtaking heavier friends, or they were losing weight, and I  was getting more depressed about it .. and then I’d eat to make me feel better.

Then a few things happened at once.

My husband, who likes to watch cookery programmes (a form of torture, if you ask me!), started watching a series by the Hairy Bikers, who were a couple of overweight cooking “celebs” who loved their food, who decided to lose weight by cooking more healthily; we came into a little bit of inheritance about the same time as our dishwasher died and flooded the kitchen, so we decided to get a new fitted kitchen; we decided to get the garden done at the same time, and had some raised beds put in, and space for a greenhouse (which we’re still to get, because, well, we’re tight, and greenhouses are expensive!).

Prompted primarily by the Hairy Bikers, we decided to follow their recipes together – we set ourselves targets, made the decision to weigh ourselves regularly and note those weights down, and to try to stick to a calorie controlled diet.

I have to stress at this point that we’ve tweaked the idea of “diet” in order to fit in with our lifestyle, and decided that simply “going on a diet” would not work for us … certainly not for me.  The concept of a diet for me seemed to be that you ate less, ate a restricted diet, until you got to your target weight, and then you went back to how you ate before.  You’d pay for a gym membership and spend weeks sweating buckets, then get to your target weight and stop.

But I didn’t want to do that – I wanted a “diet” that would be for life .. something that didn’t cut out all those nice things completely, that had space for cake, wine, chocolate, crisps and all the nice stuff, that didn’t require me to completely change my life, I didn’t want to be getting up at silly times in the morning to go jogging, spending hours on treadmills .. basically, I didn’t need a “diet”, I needed a change in my attitude towards food … otherwise I knew that, at some point in the future, I’d simply give up on the diet and go back to where I was before.

So .. we’re on our own version of the 5:2 diet .. 5 days a week we try our best to stick to the calorie counting.  The other two days, we let ourselves relax and eat (and drink) what we want.  Although I have to say, as the months rolled on, we still generally stick to the right foods on our two days “off” – we just tend to add a few glasses of wine into the mix!!

Because of the kitchen and garden refurbs, I enjoy spending time in the kitchen now … which is probably just as well, considering the amount of stuff we grow in the garden … we had only three raised beds put in, but boy, they produced a lot of food – and all of it healthy and low in calories.

I’m not losing the weight fast … and for a few months around Christmas time I hit a kind of plateau, although that seems to be dipping again now … but I am losing it fairly steadily.  I see people who say they’ve lost 3 stone in three months and feel a little jealous, but even thought my way is slow, the weight is dropping off and I am feeling much better.

The thing that prompted me, really, to write this post, is the amount of “clubs” out there that want a subscription for joining, and helping you diet.  I’m a bit “tight” when it comes to money .. if I see it and want it, I try to ask myself if I actually need it, and if there is a decent free alternative.  Obviously there is a reason for people paying month after month for diet clubs – and I can kinda understand it for those where you actually turn up on a weekly basis, get weighed, see presentations, mingle with others in the same boat .. but I really don’t understand paying for an online service.

Because we’ve become such fans of the Hairy Bikers Diet books, I’ve “followed” them in a few places, and received an email a while back saying they were putting together an online diet club and would I be interested … it would have forums, recipes and various weight tracking tools.  I liked the idea so, when it launched, I was straight there to sign up .. only to realise that all this stuff was locked behind a subscription service.

Well .. I’ve already paid for the books, use them regularly, so I’ll just bide my time for those extra recipes .. no doubt at some point they’ll stick them all in another book – and I’ll probably buy that.

The rest of the stuff … well I’ve been using a free site for quite some time called MyFitnessPal … it has the forums, the tracking tools .. it even has an app you can use on your smartphone to help you track calories (zap the bar-code and it’s automatically entered into your daily log, for example).

I just feel a little saddened that people, who no doubt are already making plenty of money off their TV shows, public appearances and books, seem to feel it’s fine to exploit those who really just want to get fitter and healthier … surely this is something that should be freely accessible to all?

So .. in conclusion … thanks for the kick up the bum I needed to get going, Hairy Bikers, but bigger thanks to MyFitnessPal for providing the means to track it all, for opening my eyes to how certain individual foods are stupidly bad for you, and providing the tools for free … big thumbs up 🙂