One of the consequences of putting on weight is how much effort everything becomes and as a consequence I tended do less and less physical activity, maybe taking the car when I could have easily walked to the shops or to post a letter. Combined with how self conscious one feels about being overweight, this leads to one wanting to hide away from the world and adopt a very sedentary lifestyle.
If you're not walking/cycling to work and, like me, you spend most of your day playing guitar, sat behind a desk or working on a computer, you're really not getting the physical activity your body and brain needs to function correctly.
One of the things that's made a huge difference for me this time round is exercising every day, either walking for around an hour or going on my exercise bike (where I'm usually watching something on Netflix on my iPad) for around 50 minutes.
When I started back on the bike I was worried about the danger of pushing myself too hard too soon so I invested in a Polar heart rate monitor to constantly log my heart rate via the app on my iPhone.
This had the added benefit of letting me know when I wasn't pushing myself hard enough to improve my fitness.
The interesting thing is how many more calories I burn by walking than actually pushing myself quite hard on the bike.
I'm probably the fittest I've been for thirty years!
Making a major change in your lifetyle
The pandemic has given me the free time and the determination to really do something about my weight, no excuses this time, the consequences are too great!
Why do we eat?
We eat because our body needs fuel to function but we also eat for many other reasons, because
1 Food can be one of life's great pleasures
2 We eat because we're happy and we want to celebrate
3 We eat because we're sad or depressed in the hope that it will make us feel better (we then quite often get depressed about the fact that we've just eaten too much of the wrong things)
4 We eat because we're bored
5 We graze on salty snacks while watching tv, even though we're really not hungry. Can you eat only one Dorito? ;-)
If you're diabetic or pre-diabetic, your blood sugar will drive your hunger, especially with regards to sweet foods.
Sugar is the worst culprit and thanks to the greed of food manufacturers, it's pretty much everywhere in the food we usually eat. If you combine it with salt and fat you create foods that are highly addictive and that make us want to binge. Who has the will power and control to only have one chocolate biscuit?
We all have our 'Kryptonite' when we crave a snack, mine is crunchy, sugar free peanut butter. Even in the first couple of months of the lockdown, I was getting through far too much of it! The only answer for me is to not have any in the house.
Eating healthily can be expensive and/or time consuming. Junk food is cheap and plentiful, it's also slowly killing you!
Try and buy fresh fruit if possible, apples are a good low cost option, try to find the variety that you enjoy the most. My current favourite are the 'Envy' variety. Pears, peaches, nectarines and berries are a good option (when in season especially). Bananas are ok in moderation (half or a third on your breakfast) unless they're very ripe when they'll impact your blood sugar too much.
As many healthy Vegetables as possible
Broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, green beans, asparagus, courgettes, aubergines, swede, red and white onions, red and yellow peppers, garlic, lettuce, cherry tomatoes, avocados, mushrooms, red and white cabbage, cucumber and baby spinach leaves
I try to avoid high starch vegetables like potatoes if possible apart from the occasional new potatoes or when we have vegetarian fajitas when we have a small quantity of sweet potato and parsnips.
Fat has been demonised over the years while the real culprit in my opinion is sugar. I have full fat greek yoghurt for breakfast and cheese occasionally, feta with avocado in a salad, buffalo mozzarella with large tomatoes and red in onion and some hard cheeses like a mature cheddar or double gloucester either grated or as a snack.
We use virgin olive oil to cook in and as a salad dressing (with a good quality balsamic vinegar).
We've cut right back on the amount of meat we eat and have cut out processed meats almost completely. We eat quite a lot of eggs, scrambled, poached or in an omelette usually.
We try not to eat meat more than twice a week (chicken or beef) but we also eat fish (salmon, cod/haddock, tinned tuna, smoked salmon or mackerel)
I haven't had a pre packaged meal in nearly five months and I feel so much better for it.
The trick, I've found, is to vary your diet as much as possible so you don't get bored while still being healthy. An occasional treat is allowed but nothing sweet as that will undo all the hard work in re-educating your taste buds.
If we're really enjoying a meal, especially something like pizza, we'll quite often keep on eating it for the pleasure the taste and texture gives us, even after we're actually full! Learning to eat smaller portions really helps, as does having a side salad or a large portion of vegetables (steamed if possible) but by far and away the best solution is to avoid those foods if at all possible.
Let me know if you'd like some of the recipes we use in the next post.