I don’t quite know how it happened. There I was one minute, a perky size eight, and the next I was hauling an extra three stone around with me. Well, okay, it actually took around 10 years, but like a lot of people who gain weight over a number of years I don’t like it one bit!
When I was young my body coped with the odd overindulgence and a patchy exercise regimen. My youthful metabolism and surging hormones made allowances, but as I’ve grown older they are much less forgiving, which is why I found myself with a wardrobe full of clothes I couldn’t bear to part with but nor could I squeeze into them anymore.
I have no faith that eating crisp bread is the route to a tiny waist, or that sachets of anything freeze-dried can replace fresh fruit and vegetables. The dieters I’m friends with are obsessed with counting, eternally hungry and miserable with it. As a first-time dieter I just wanted to raise my energy levels, lower my cholesterol, reduce my migraines and wear my old jeans again – quite a wish list, but three months later and I’m on track for a full house.
The key has been Katherine Neal at Nutritional Know How and Metabolic Balance, a wellness and weight-loss programme which focuses on improving health and balancing hormones. Katherine told me Metabolic Balance was developed by doctors and scientists and works by managing insulin levels to adjust body chemistry and rebalance hormone levels. This promotes fat-burning, decreases fat storage and promotes well-being while protecting muscles and connective tissues and promoting taut and smooth skin.
To start the programme I was assessed by Katherine and given a blood test by a nursing practitioner, which for squeamish old me was the trickiest part of the whole thing. From my blood analysis and health information I was given an eating plan based on my personal needs, a set of eight simple rules and a four-stage programme to follow.
I’ve always known that drinking water is a key to health and I’ve had to increase my intake, but it also turns out that how and new limited (but not difficult) diet. I had a personalised list of permitted foods and a meal planner with guidelines to make sure I fulfilled my nutritional needs. It’s very easy to follow, although I would recommend digital scales to keep you on track. I lost 4kg in those two weeks which was a real morale boost and set me up for what was to follow.
Onwards to the ‘relaxed’ phase as additional food items are added for variety along with a once-a-week treat meal where anything goes. The treat meal was welcome but even with the more limited range I was never hungry, never bored and became inventive with recipes. I loved that the food is ‘real’, readily available and suitable to share with the family, albeit their portions were larger with ‘extras’. My shopping time and expenditure is reduced as whole areas of the supermarket are no-go – in my case the fruit, vegetable and dairy aisles have become my new natural habitat.
There were a few times when I fell off the wagon. Holidays and family celebrations were small hurdles, but as long as I stuck to the core principles, if not always rigidly to the diet, the fallout wasn’t too great as my body was already metabolising differently. Also, the fortnightly one-to-ones and weigh-ins with Katherine made it quick and easy to get back on track.
Three months on and my hair is shiny, my skin is smoother, my migraines are fewer, I am 10kg lighter, my waist is 17cm smaller, my thighs are 10cm slimmer and my hips are 12cm narrower, but the best bit was the first time I bought size 10 jeans again instead of scrabbling for the larger sizes at the back of the rack. To say I was delighted is an understatement.
With Katherine’s guidance the programme is still working for me and I’m looking forward to phase four, an indefinite period that will start when I am happy with my health, well-being and weight. Actually, I don’t see this as a ‘phase’ as my eating habits have changed permanently. I no longer crave the odd biscuit or packet of crisps. I’ve been reprogrammed and rebooted – result!