How did you lose all that weight?

I used to be five stone heavier than I am right now. Weight was a major issue in my life but for the last two years I've managed to stay on the 13.5 stone mark, which for my height of around 6 foot is about right.

I'd like to lose a couple more pounds but I'm finally happy with the way I look.

I had problems with my body size since the final year of university but really packed it on once I left and started working in commercial radio at the age of 22. Now in my mid thirties I finally feel brave enough to write a blog entry on the topic which is designed as advice for people who were, like me, stuck inside a negative spiral of diets, exercise, the occasional fleeting success and then ultimately 'failure'.

Firstly here are the diets that did not work long term for me:

Slimfast - massive success very early on only to fail when trying to adjust to a normal diet afterwards.

Weight Watchers - I had limited success with it but at £5 a week it ended up being too costly. Also in the long term the old habits were always there in the background and returned once I wasn't doing it any more.

The most effective part was the group aspect because watching others lose weight spurred me on to keep trying. It also gave me a chance to get direct advice from fellow dieters who had no vested interest in trying to sell me something. That's the point of this article, I am not pushing any idea that will cost you money here. Just sharing as honestly as possible what worked for me..

The Atkins diet - I had huge success very early on with this. It was amazing to see the weight come off so rapidly and I think it's worth doing just to psychologically convince you that weight loss is at least possible. I was desperate the first time I tried it after it was suggested to me by a listener, way before it took off in the UK as THE fad diet to go on.

Although it worked and I lost a lot of weight there was no group aspect to it and I also had problems keeping the weight off once I'd hit my goal at the time of 15 stone. It's incredibly hard to keep in the mindset of an Atkins dieter.

My advice later in this entry as to what did work is a modified version of the Atkins diet.

Rosmary Connelly's Gi diet - I read her book and gave it as good a go as I could manage but never had any success with it.

Calorie counting - Never had any real success with this. Weight watchers uses a similar principle though.

Massive amounts of exercise - I have never lost weight because of exercise. All my weight loss has always been down to changing the foods I eat and nothing more. Around the age of about 24 I hit the gym as hard as I knew how and developed awful stretch marks across my stomach because my muscles expanded rapidly underneath my body fat and ruined parts of my skin.

I believe the main reason people think you can lose weight through exercise is because it makes for better television programmes. Reality TV shows seem to thrive on music montages and a fat person being ritualistically humiliated for the benefit of the viewer, who is probably equally fat and just wants to feel better about themselves.

What did work for me:

I am not setting myself up as an expert here. I do not know what will work for you and can only tell you as precisely as possible what it was I did to lose weight. Every body is different.

What worked for my body is this:
  • Decide at the start of each day if you are going to eat EITHER carbohydrates or protein. Across a single week my ratio was 5 protein days to 2 carb days. Eat as much as you want until you feel full. Be careful not to over indulge on carb days but knock yourself out on protein days. Seriously, eat non stop on those protein days if you like, just so long as it's all protein. No more "balanced" or "normal" meals until my weight was more "balanced" and "normal". I stuck rigidly to the selection I'd made each day.
  • No bread, ever. Just cut it out entirely. Even on carbohydrate days I skipped bread. Sorry. If you need to lose weight that's the choice you've got to make.
  • When you have a bad day, resolve not to throw away the week.
The above were my rules. If you stick to them, and you have a human body like mine, you will start to lose weight. You will probably lose quite rapidly in the first month or so and then gradually after that.

The psychological battle is the next part and that's where the "Slimming World" group I joined came into its own. I suspect it's a bit like an alcoholics anonymous meeting in that you sit round with a load of people who are determined to stop being who they've become. You sit there and really consider the fact that you must stay the course and lose weight. This comes after you've been ceremonially weighed. Most people don't hang around for the meeting but I found it the most useful part of the process. I strongly suggest you find a group of some kind to join.

Another thing that helped me psychologically was a picture our group leader used to have of a bunch of 7 flowers. One of the flowers was damaged.

One is ruined, still keep the others innit?
The leader would would always make the point that if you had a vase like this with 7 flowers in and one of them was damaged, would you throw them all away? Nope, you'd just forget about the one that was wrong and keep the other 6.

These flowers were like the days of the week. Failing on one day to keep to your diet does not mean you have to throw away the whole week. For some reason that really made sense to me and helped when I dropped the ball.

Nick Margerrison.

PS - err, I kinda cast a magick spell as well...

Details here: Disinfo.

and here: My blog.

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