Hope you’re well and not too bitter about this very un-Spring like March weather we’re having at the moment. As I type I can see sunshine and blue sky out my office window, so I certainly feel more upbeat than a couple of days ago. Not only was it cold and wintery, but it was also my first ‘fasting’ day and the day that shall now become known as the-day-I-thought-about-food-CONSTANTLY-and-was-thoroughly-miserable day.
Yes, as of this week I am dieting.
Now for those of you who know me well, this is completely laughable- and as I am planning on sharing my progress with you over the next month it also has the potential to be completely and utterly embarrassing. You see, I CANNOT DIET. I don’t physically possess willpower or self-discipline, and eating good food and drinking bad things is one of my greatest pleasures. My mate Dave’s favourite story about me is how, when house-sharing with my two best friends a few years ago and tracking our weekly weight-loss via a chart on the fridge, I lost a grand total of ZERO over the course of a year, bar natural fluctuation. In fact, I may have possibly gained weight. Ahem.
Now before we go on I should say that I don’t have a lot to lose. I’m 5’4″ and on Monday I weighed in at 9 stone 10 lbs which gives me a BMI of 23.3 and puts me near the top end of the ‘normal weight’ category. Despite my short legs and square bum, I’m pretty happy with my body and a fairly confident person…
…But we can always do better, right?
There’s a general consensus that you have to be your slimmest and most beautiful on your wedding day, and certainly in the boutique I’d say that 9 out of 10 brides tell me guiltily that they ‘obviously will be slimmer’ come the big day. They could be a size 6, they could be a size 16; everyone does it. And despite my firm belief that confidence comes from within and my mantra to brides-to-be that ‘he’s asked you to marry him as you are, not as how you could be when you’ve lost a stone’, I’ve still found myself firmly wedged in the ‘but I do just want to drop a couple of pounds before the big day’ camp.
So ok, it’s a girl’s prerogative to feel her best on a day when all eyes are on her. But what’s the best way to do it? Well, by exercising several times a week and eating sensibly throughout your engagement of course. Except if, like me, your gym membership card is a little dusty and you can easily swallow down a Big Mac Meal and eight Maryland double chocolate chip cookies for your tea when you are neither drunk nor hungover, then you may need a bit of a Last Minute Panic Diet.
My LMPD of choice is the 5:2 Diet.
Touted as more of a ‘way of life’ than a diet, it’s kind of taken the country by storm in the last six months- and I’ve certainly heard it talked about a lot at the boutique by brides, their mums, their friends, their work colleagues… everyone seems to know someone who’s either on it or has done it.
The theory is that most people ‘fail’ at dieting because they can’t keep up the deprivation. However, to lose weight you do need to eat less calories, so on the 5:2 Diet you eat normally (but within moderation) for five days of the week, and then ‘fast’ for two days. I’m using the word ‘fast’ loosely because you are actually allowed to eat up to 500 calories on those days. Or 600 if you’re a man. And in the book there is a whole section on how fasting like this is actually good for our bodies, how teaching ourselves that we’re not totally reliant on food is good for our minds, and the numerous other health benefits that follow, etc etc.
So as someone who hates depriving myself of the JOY that is food, I thought it might be something that I could give a go. For a period of time. A reasonably short piece of time. Say, 4 weeks… which takes me neatly up to my first dress fitting on 10th April.
I’ve also signed up to My Fitness Pal- a FREE online diet tool that allows you to track your calorie intake, exercise etc. It’s not so useful on the 5:2 Diet because it gets a bit hysterical on the days when you don’t consume enough calories, and tells you off on the days you go over their recommended daily allowance, but it’s a very straight-forward and comprehensive system that allows you to keep an eye on just how much you’re consuming.
According to My Fitness Pal, I need to eat 1300 calories a day to lose 4 lbs in 4 weeks. But as I said earlier, I don’t want to be ‘dieting’ every day, so I’m kind of ignoring that and trying to stick to as close to 2000 calories as I can on my ‘normal’ days (the healthy amount for women) and then the 500 calories on my ‘fast’ days.
Fast Day #1 was on Tuesday and, well, it didn’t go quite as well as I’d hoped. (See what I mean? The will-power of a gnat.) I had wound myself up so much the night before that I’d made myself hungry before I went to bed… and continued to feel ravenous from when I awoke at 7am until I went to bed again at 10.30pm. I ate the following:
Breakfast: Nothing. (It’s usually my favourite meal of the day but from what I’d read it’s easier to get to lunch time before eating than it is to go from breakfast to dinner.)
Lunch: Batchelor’s Chicken Noodle Cup-A-Soup (95 cals), medium banana (105 cals)
Dinner: Innocent Mexican Veg Pot (324 cals), Hartley’s Low Cal Cranberry & Raspberry jelly (10 cals)
Snacks: Kallo Rice cakes with yeast extract (32 cals each)….. x 5
Grand total: 694 calories
I didn’t mean to snack at all but I had moments of weakness mid-afternoon, and then again before bed when I’d wound myself up that I was so hungry I wouldn’t be able to sleep. HAVING SAID THAT, I still consumed around 1500 calories less than I usually eat, AND I have a fairly active job… so I’m not beating myself up about it.
I didn’t find it hard per se, but it wasn’t enjoyable. I could physically feel the hunger in my belly all day, despite drinking lots of water and green tea, and listening to a news report on the radio on my drive home, the mention of a man called Norman Lamb did make me say out loud, ‘Mmmm, lamb’, before I experienced the strongest craving I’ve ever had for my least favourite meat… but it was ok.
It was good to know that I could eat ‘normally’ yesterday, although interestingly I did only have two sausages as opposed to my usual three, and I separated my own potatoes to make the mash as Paul likes his with half a vat of butter. That allowed me to have a glass of wine and a couple of chocolate digestives in the evening and still be around the 2000 calorie mark AND I went to the gym in the morning. So for the time being we’re on track…
Fast Day #2 is today (hungry already!) and then I’m going to enjoy my weekend before weighing in again at the gym on Monday. I’m dubious but hopeful.
So what about you lovely lot? Anyone else on the 5:2? Or a different Wedding Diet altogether? Or are diets just a waste of time and we should be happy with what we’ve got? I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts, tips and words of wisdom…
I will give you an update next week but don’t worry, I don’t plan to talk Diets alone for the next month. Jeez, I couldn’t think of anything more depressing!
‘Til next time…