I have had mixed feelings about publishing this post. I didn’t want to criticise diets because they do work for some people. However, after recent conversations with some of my friends and acquaintances who have had similar experiences to my own when dieting, I figured sharing my own experiences might help others.
Dieting and Me
As I revealed in a recent post ‘My Weight Loss Journey: Binge Eating and Me‘, as the title suggests, I have been struggling with binge eating for some time now. I have tried a whole range of diets, and while they seem to work for other people, they don’t seem to work for me. I’ve been to Weight Watchers, Slimming World, tried the low GI diet, you name it, I’ll have tried it. No matter what I did, I was always hungry on these weight loss diets, or miserable, quite often both! And after sticking to these diets for some time I would become more and more depressed (even when I was losing weight). Eventually, I would give up the whole thing and pile on more weight that I had lost on the diet… in fact substantially more weight. I have come to the conclusion that a diet in the traditional sense of the word is bad for me.
The Problem with Diets
Last year I joined my local Slimming World group with a friend. Both of us were extremely excited to begin our new diets together. After paying our joining fee, we were presented with our Slimming World packs (which are excellent guides for the diet). The diet was explained to us and we settled in to participate in the meeting.
We were both weighed and asked to consider our weight loss goals (which we wrote down in the pack) and set ourselves a target for the following week. I set myself a 2-pound target.
Returning the following week, I had lost 2.5 pounds and my friend has seen a 0.5-pound weight loss. I had struggled to stick to the diet all week, however, I was elated by my weight loss. Whereas my friend was extremely disappointed with hers. Slimming World encourages you to set your own weight loss goals for the following week. I, encouraged by other group members opted for a rather brave 3 pounds the following week.
‘What Went Wrong’?
By week 2, I had become more comfortable with the diet, I knew how the diet worked and felt somewhat happier. I attended the group weigh-in, stepped on the scales only to discover I had only lost 1 pound. Now, as any healthcare professional will tell you, losing 1 to 2 pounds per week on a diet is healthy. However, because I had set a 3-pound target for that week, the group then seemed disappointed with my result and I was asked ‘what went wrong?’
It was at this point that I became disillusioned by the whole diet and went home and stuffed my face. I felt depressed, upset and embarrassed. I decided to give up on the whole diet and over the following 12 months, I fell into a serious depression.
The group leader contacted me after a few weeks to check how I was doing. I was honest and told her that I did have depressive feelings before, however, the diet had been the straw that broke the camels back.
From my last Slimming World meeting in September 2017 up to September 2018, I had gained 4 stones. I had been mildly depressed before I began the diet and depriving myself of food had made me feel even worse. My ‘lack of success’ in the meeting simply tipped me over the edge.
I was really disappointed to find that this wasn’t the diet for me. Many of my friends have had amazing success with Slimming World. But I have also spoken to many people who had a similar experience to myself.
How Weight Loss Works
Generally, with a diet, you will see a significant weight loss in the first week or so. After this time, the loss might plateau or even halt altogether for a time. With some people (me included) it can take up to a month to see any significant loss. By this time I have given up and pilled on those additional pounds. My friends who saw a dramatic weight loss in the first few weeks felt disheartened by their slow progress in the subsequent weeks and also fell off the wagon. In my opinion, it would be useful to explain these possibilities to newcomers, that we’re all different and our experiences will differ greatly.
In essence, to lose weight you need to burn more calories than you eat. You don’t need to sign up to an expensive diet to do this. Some people feel the benefit of going to a club with weekly weigh-ins and meetings which offer guidance. If you’re that sort of person, then a group like Slimming World or Weight Watchers would be ideal for you. However, others (me included) just need to stick to an eating plan that works!
Back in 2016, I lost an amazing 3 stones. I did not follow any fancy diet or pay a subscription to any club, I simply considered what I was eating and why. Depression is an ugly thing which does strange things to the mind. It somehow prevented me from returning to this former system that actually worked! I had convinced myself that joining slimming clubs and following diets would somehow be better. That I would lose weight at a much faster rate!
I have decided to make some positive changes and to return to this former lifestyle which saw success for me back in 2016. I don’t like to use the word diet. It immediately conjures images for me of my past negative experiences. To me, diet suggests a short-term fix to a problem. I, on the other hand, am making significant lifestyle changes to lose weight and become healthier.
I have made my return to this healthier lifestyle by going to the gym and carefully considering everything I eat. I’m taking bits and pieces from diets I have tried in the past (especially recipes) and applying them to these lifestyle changes.
My Weight Loss Plan
I have made some calculations. Use a weight loss calculator to calculate how many calories you need to consume each day to lose weight.
To give you an example, here’s what a typical day looks like for me.
|Homemade Vegetable Soup
Kellogg’s Biscuit Moments
|2 Chicken Breasts, Baked Potato
You will notice there is a deficit of a few hundred calories here. When I used this ‘diet’ before, I didn’t count the calories in fruits and vegetables I grazed on during the day. I found that this really helped. My consumption of healthy snacks significantly increased because I felt I could eat as much of them as I liked.
Many of my friends use protein shakes after their gym workout. I don’t particularly like these. I seem to eat less when I have been to the gym, it curbs my hunger. Nevertheless, I do ensure that I eat after my work out (this is usually my morning snack, normally a banana).
So, in order to lose weight, I’ve opted against commercial diets. They do work for some and it is not my intention to draw people away from those diets. I will be using some of the lessons I learnt from these diets to help me to achieve my goals. However, there are people out there for whom these diets simply don’t work. So, if you’re like me, making healthier choices and simply being aware of your calorie intake may be all you need.
Before undertaking any diet/fitness programme, you should always consult a doctor.1