Ok, a few things I thought I’d point out before I get into this:
- I’m sorry if you’re doing well on a diet. My intention isn’t to upset you. Maybe just come back here if you ever feel like you’re failing and it’s your fault.
- I’m sure there will be people who will say that I’m bitter because slimming clubs didn’t work for me. I want to say now that yeah, they did work for me. I had lots of success. At Slimming World I lost over four stone once. A couple of times I lost over three stone, many times I lost around two stone – and pretty much every time I went, I got a stone off. I wasn’t unsuccessful.
- I don’t have all the answers. This isn’t me telling you what you’re doing is wrong, or saying you should do something else. This is just my experience of 18 years in diet clubs.
- Yeah, I know this isn’t really a money-saving blog as such… but if you were to stop dieting, you’d save yourself a fortune (and my blog, my rules.. ;).
Right, got that out of the way…
We all know diets don’t work right?
It’s something we’re told all the time. From doctors on the TV to the fact that most women in our lives have been on one their whole lives, and they don’t work. The best you can hope for is a loss, and then you put all the weight back on again (and usually more).
We all know this. At least deep down anyway. I’m no scientist – but there is plenty of research out there that says when you diet/starve yourself, your body freaks out so as soon as ‘normal’ food comes back in, it packs on all the weight again and even more. It’s protecting you (in a really bloody annoying way).
Oh – I’m putting ‘lifestyle change’ into the exact same category as a ‘diet’ by the way. At Weight Watchers and Slimming World, they’re always telling you that ‘It’s a lifestyle change, not a diet’. Well, call it what you want – it’s still restricting food and stepping on a weighing scales constantly while hating yourself if the scale says something you don’t want it to.
So why do we keep doing it? We do it because were obsessed with weight loss. We’re getting fatter and the ideal is thin. Magazines, papers, blogs, Instagrammers all make serious money from weight loss and diets (and shifting junk like weight loss tea etc). Take it from my own experience, if you write about how someone lost XX stone doing XX diet – people will click.
My dieting background
I don’t remember a time I wasn’t dieting. I joined Weight Watchers at 13 years old (I look back at photos now and I just wasn’t that fat!). From that day, my addiction to Diet Coke began, however I have now kicked the 20k habit.
Weight Watchers wrap up calorie counting and weight-loss (not health!) obsession into a neat box where you calculate points and eat awful frozen ready meals. I bought some last year thinking I could shift some pounds before a holiday, and they are just as bad as they were all those years ago!
I’ve been on all the diets, including (and I laugh now) this meal replacement one from QVC. It’s not quite like Slimfast, but you replace all your food with these chocolate bars. My mum bought me about a months worth of them – and I literally stole them all and ate them within a week. Yep, I had a months worth of calories in a week, while eating the food I normally eat.
However, the biggest dieting love of my life has been Slimming World. I’m honestly not sure how many times I’ve joined. At the very least it has been once a year since I was 13 (I’m 31 now), and I would often join two or three times in a year.
The first time I went, I couldn’t believe all the food I could eat. You could eat as many Muller Light Yogurts as you like (and I’d get through loads daily), as much fruit as I like (I’d eat a whole packet of grapes in a sitting so pleased with myself for my dieting ways), all the carbs (giant bowls of pasta were my thing) and of course… gallons of Diet Coke.
That said, I’d lose weight! like I said above, 4 stone, 3 stone… it was totally possible. All I had to do was pay £4.25 a week, buy the magazine, scran bran (or whatever its called!) and the Hifi bars.
But I wouldn’t keep going. No-one did. You’d see people dropping out of the classes whether they were doing well or not. The last time I went, I made myself stay for a whole year. There were a couple of people who were there the whole time, but 99% of the class left.
I would kick myself ‘Why did you quit idiot?’.
I used to be obsessed with The Biggest Loser. I’d watch every season, to the degree I’d watch the Australian and American one to get more in. They would inspire me. Now of course there are loads of articles about how unhealthy the process was, and that the vast majority of them gained all the weight they had lost.
Here’s a fact a bariatric surgeon told me once (and its depressing, sorry). Once you’re obese, less than 5% of people will keep the weight off they lose. The odds are stacked against you – this is a scientific fact. Which really does help the diet industry right?
Health not diets
So yeah, what do you do then eh? You can’t just stop dieting and eat what you want? I have fears about becoming so big you end up a ‘bed person’ where you almost melt into the mattress – and that would happen if I were to eat whatever I want (Maybe? I dunno – I don’t have normal thoughts about food).
For YEARS I’ve considered the calorie content of every mouthful of food that goes into my mouth. It’s exhausting.
So for a little while I was writing on the features desk of a national publication. I’d be writing up diet stories about a woman who would eat a whole Dominos Pizza every night and weighed 20 stone. She then decided she didn’t want to be fat, stopped eating the pizza and was now a size 10.
I used to think ‘That’s SO unfair. I don’t eat anything like that. I’m not obsessed with something full of calories making me gain weight.’ while sloshing down 2L of Diet Coke.
So after doing some maths, I realised I spent 20k on Diet Coke and was thoroughly addicted so decided to quit. First off I realised that as soon as I stopped with Diet Coke, I no longer craved the sugar I did before.
I realised that all these years I didn’t care about my health at all. I had done some awful things to my body in the pursuit of thinness. Health was never a factor.
Talking to a nutritionist
My Diet Coke article went pretty viral online. I had hundreds of people tell me how they were addicted to Diet Coke too. Then out of a blue a nutritionist called Claudia Le Feuvre got in touch with me about my article. (I’ll write a whole blog about Claudia in a couple of weeks – she’s amazing – but you can follow her on Facebook where she does free weekly Facebook live’s on certain topics).
Claudia got in touch when I was sure it was no longer possible for me to lose weight. I had given up sugar for a few weeks since quitting Diet Coke and had lost nothing – and I couldn’t be bothered to try any more. It didn’t work.
I’m also very sceptical of this kind of thing. I saw an NHS Dietician years ago when I wanted to lose weight and it was THE WORST experience. If you’re telling me that my chocolate bar has calories and you need to switch with carrots, we have a problem. Fat people KNOW the calorie content of things.
I got to 30 and my body started to hate me
Here is something no-one tells young people – the older you get, the less food your body is going to tolerate. Whether its dairy, wheat, spices, fat… seriously. I was starting to get IBS after eating certain foods as well as constant heartburn.
So Claudia and I decided to look at what I was eating, and how it was affecting me. Again, I promise to go through all of this properly in another blog – because there is a lot to talk about. However, it started off with ‘clean eating’ for 10 days. No sugar, dairy or wheat. I also had to shift around when and how I ate.
Then after the 10 days, I had a wheat day. I was excited about this, and had a baguette and a giant bowl of pasta and felt totally fine after it. Then the next day hit and omg… THE STOMACH PAIN. THE HEARTBURN. I don’t know if because I was clean eating and all the symptoms had gone, this felt worse – but I realised, without anyone telling me, that wheat hurts me. I’ve now cut it out, not for weight loss reasons or because someone is telling me to, because I know what it does. And its easy. And trust me, I love giant bowls of pasta. But once you see it in a different way, I’m not sure you can go back.
I tried the same with dairy a couple of weeks later, and I was ok… I had a bit of heartburn, but it wasn’t awful. So now I cut most of it out – but if I want a bit of cheese, I will.
I also noticed how my energy levels had changed. Before, I didn’t really think about energy levels. I know this sounds odd, but I wasn’t in touch with my body. You know how people say ‘I felt so bloated’, well – I didn’t know what that feeling was (I now know its because I was bloated all the time!).
However, I’m not hungry and shaking all the time. I used to not have breakfast, maybe a sandwich and then a giant bowl of pasta for dinner (all Slimming World approved by the way!). I’d be starving by the time I’d get to eating, but now I’m at a constantly at a nice level.
What I’m trying to say is…
I know this is a bit of a rambling blog, but what I think I’m trying to say (and it maybe obvious to some of you) is that diets (including these slimming clubs) don’t work because you aren’t fixing your problems. You aren’t coming at it at a health point of view, just a weight loss one. Oh, and the money you’re spending on them is ridiculous too!
Seriously – just look at Muller yogurts, which Slimming World very much advocates. A DIET Muller Light Banana and Custard yogurt (which is rubbish by the way – can we all stop pretending they’re fine), which has the word ‘LIGHT’ taking up 90% of the packaging has 13.5 sugar in its 175g pot.
The NHS says we shouldn’t have more than 30g of added sugar a day – because it is unhealthy for your body to have more.
Slimming World says you can have an UNLIMITED amount of these every day. That means just TWO pots of these just about reaches your sugar limit for the day. That yogurt, full of sugar and chemicals is just not good for you. You’d be better off with a full fat, sugar free one with some fruit.
We need to start thinking about what is good for us. I remember freaking out in Slimming World because I ate an avocado assuming it would be fine, to find it was 40 points! Because if we focus on health and not weight-loss, maybe we can break that horrible 5% statistic.
I’m going to try doing things a new way, because this dieting stuff just doesn’t work.
Tell me where you are with dieting? Still going for it? How long have you been doing it? Give me your thoughts!
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