Something that’s been doing the rounds for the last few days is the channel 4 program Super Slimmers: Did They Keep the Weight Off? I don’t normally watch anything like that but after hearing a lot of people talk about it I decided to check it out. And I’m glad I did.
Unsurprisingly, nearly all of the slimmers featured regained nearly all of the weight they’d lost. This is no surprise because haven’t we all done it before? If I added up all the weight I’d lost and regained in the 34 years I’ve been on this earth I’m quite sure the figure would exceed the 50 st mark, easily. What this documentary tells us is that it’s not our fault, and that’s always nice to hear. Just this week my Slimming World consultant messaged me to say ‘don’t let the guilt win’. Imagine that, how much easier would it be to get back on the wagon if we truly could let go of the guilt that comes with a binge. I’ve heard the theory before, but it seems that once we’ve been fat and we lose the weight, our bodies think they need to get that weight back. Y’know, as some sort of evolutionary survival mechanism or whatever (listen to me getting all scientific). So it sends out loads of hormones that make us want to eat, and even makes food taste nicer. So the odds are seriously stacked against us.
At first it all seemed doom and gloom to me, but then I took a number of positives from this program. For one, I’m not just a greedy cow! When I feel like I really must eat a load of rubbish or have one of those days where it feels like nothing, and I mean nothing will fill me up, it’s not simply a lack of self control. I just have a crapload of hunger hormones racing around my bloodstream. Knowing what’s happening may make it easier to come up with strategies when these cravings inevitably appear. Knowledge is power!
Secondly, people out there are working on research that will one day help us dieters. Let’s just hope the evil sugar companies don’t bury the evidence.
Thirdly, the program went into some detail about metabolic problems for people who have lost lots of weight. Dieting can seriously mess up your metabolism, so someone who has lost a lot of weight actually needs less calories than someone of the same build, age, height etc. Which really, really sucks. I mean, how unfair! But this information spawned a plan. One of the people featured in the program was on an eating plan that aims to counteract this metabolic problem (which is still in its early stages and there is no clinical evidence so I won’t be bothering with anything like that just yet) and he actually had his basal metabolic rate properly calculated to see if it was working. I thought to myself that it would be quite interesting when I’m slimmer to see just how many calories my body really does burn at rest. That way I can take a scientific approach to staying slim and try and tip the odds in my favour. I can make sure that I’m eating the right portions and doing the right amount of exercise to stay slim for the rest of my life. I looked into it and you can go to a clinic and get your BMR calculated for about £100. I’d love to go now and have something to compare it to down the line but that seems just a tad frivolous!
Despite all this I must admit I did feel a little bit bummed out after watching it, and tried to think of someone in my own life who has lost a significant amount of weight and kept it off. The answer was right in front of me the whole time- my own little sister! She has been skinny for so long that I forgot she’d ever been big!
My sister has stayed slim for over ten years now, although she’s never reached a point where she thought ‘OK, I’m stopping, this is exactly the weight I want to be’. In the past she’s seen this as less than ideal, but I’ve found it’s given me new perspective. I’m going to stop trying for a target as such. On this journey there is no ‘end point’, staying healthy and getting slim is something that is going to require daily maintenance for the rest of my life. I have targets that I’m aiming for, but when I get to those I’ll concentrate on maintaining, take a metaphorical deep breath, then decide where I want to go from there.
My little sister has helped me to see that this is not a bad way of doing things. She still has days where she can’t control her eating and will scoff an entire packet of chocolate hobnobs. She still has days where she pigs out on pizza or her favourite nachos and dip. She goes out for meals and cocktails with her friends. But the good days outnumber the bad and she has showed me that it’s possible to stay slim and really live at the same time. And that I can be part of that tiny percentage of people who don’t regain the weight. I’m going to start paying more attention to what the girl who was once a size 22 is doing, that same girl who sent me a text yesterday to say she thought she’d try on a size 8 ‘just to see’ and found that it did. The same girl who once cried when I threw away the bathroom scales because she was becoming obsessed with them, who now can happily look at a 2 lb gain, remember the romantic meal she’d had with her boyfriend, and just knuckle down for the next week. How lucky am I to have that kind of inspiration in my life?
As for me staying on plan today has been relatively easy because I officially have man flu and can’t taste a damn thing. I have a couple of low syn treats in the fridge such as a little pot of The Collective Russian fudge live yoghurt (5.5 syns and DELICIOUS) and some pots of Alpro Go On (1 syn for my favourite blackcurrant flavour), but there’s no point in eating them until I can really enjoy them. As such today has mostly consisted of coffee and fake Heinz tomato soup, which is completely free and the ultimate comfort food.
And now it’s time to get some extra sleep before work which I will brave even though I feel poorly, because clearly I’m just hard like that. But whether I’ll make it through the entire night is anyone’s guess!
Thanks for reading,