So just before Christmas 2020 I weighed in at a massive 155 kilos, which is nearly 25 stones in old money. This is possibly the heaviest I’ve ever been and the additional weight brought with it a host of health issues such as severe pains in my hips and knees. Also my arteries began to clog up and I had stents inserted to keep me alive. I now need Plavix (blood thinners) and a handful of other meds to keep me going. Actually, I can’t remember ever being ‘small’. Even as a child I was constantly being told I was ‘fat’ though looking now at old photos I clearly wasn’t at all. Over the years I grew to accept my body shape as somewhat abnormal and eventually grew into the body size I’d been told I was.
I *did* have a period when I can honestly say I was fit and active, even looking the way I’d always wanted. This was the period I was in college doing my degrees and it was only after that I began my inexorable expansion. Even so, it wasn’t until we migrated to Australia that the problems really set in. I was used to walking at least 5 – 10 kilometres a day whilst walking to and from college, plus the distance walking between classrooms etc. This had stopped once college was over, and in Australia I soon found that until I acclimatised, it was too hot to walk far. Then of course the internet exploded with the arrival of the ‘World Wide Web’ and I began to spend more and more time on the computer, and less and less time actively working or walking… yet eating the same! So the weight moved upwards and onwards.
Even before I got to this size there were times I felt really guilty about carrying so much excess. Possibly one of the worst effects was an inability to play with my kids properly! For example, I can’t remember kicking a ball with them, or even riding a bike, something I’d loved doing since I was a small child. I kept plugging away at diets only to fail repeatedly and make the physical issues return, and even worsen as I usually ended up heavier than when I started. I used to joke I’d lost so much weight through the years I should have vanished several times over. But it really wasn’t funny.
At one point I made a real *concerted* effort to do something, anything, to do *something* to stem the physical toll the weight was carrying out on my body. I joined a gym, even entering a competition with prizes for the member who lost the greatest amount of weight, which I won. I even had a ‘gastric band’ fitted to try and control my excess eating. Even so, the weight eventually piled back on, and on, and on until I reached the sorry state I was back in 2020.
Finally, I realised one of *the* major problems I was having was simply my diet. Ok it seems quite obvious that calories in that exceed calories out equals weight gain but knowing that intellectually doesn’t mean life is as simple as that. In our household I do most of the cooking and it became clearer as time moved on that the biggest problems I was continually facing were associated with food preparation, i.e. portion control! I’d follow recipes, or adapt them to suit my own tastes, and over the years was considered at least an acceptable cook by family and friends. However, whilst cooking, I was continually tasting and eating leftover ingredients and making far more than was really necessary for the numbers eating. Then there were usually leftovers, and these would often disappear down my gullet in preference to ‘wasting’ them by throwing them out.
The answer, so far at least, has been to let someone else cook for me. Luckily (sort of) the rest of the family had also put on weight due to my force feeding them fat and carb loaded meals and they agreed that someone else, external to the family, should cook. To this end we chose the Lite n Easy company. These people prepare calories controlled meal menus that you can select from either for single days or, as in our case, a full weeks food.
For my own needs, I chose a full weeks food package, i.e. 7 days of breakfast, lunch and dinner (with snacks and fresh fruit). The wife has only the lunch and dinner (again with the snacks), and the daughter buys single meals to suit her schedule and exercise routines. The cost is quite reasonable, especially in comparison with our prior food bills. For my full weeks food, three meals a day, I pay AU$155. This is for the ‘1200 calorie’ plan. The wife pays AU$131 and the daughter around AU$94 depending on her needs. So the total is rarely above AU$380 – AU$400, easily less than our previous food bills, even allowing for having to buy ‘light’ milk and soft fruit (which, tho unnecessary I like to have with the breakfasts).
Initially I chose a 1500 calorie meal plan because I wasn’t sure I could keep to the diet, but after a week it became clear I *could* so dropped down to the1200 calorie plan. The reasoning was as follows. In order to keep body and soul functioning at a stable weight, I need to consume in the region of 2500 calories a day. To *lose* weight, which is the intention, I need to consume around 2000 calories a day. On 1500 calories I should lose weight faster, but still not do my body any more damage. So why 1200 calories? The reason is simple… it allows me to ‘cheat’ a little if I *do* get peckish. I means I can add an egg to a salad, or extra flavoured mayonnaise, or, eat the soft fruit I mentioned earlier, and all without exceeding the 1500 daily plan.
The burning question of course is “How well does it work?”, in fact *does* it work? Well I obviously can’t comment on the long term yet because I’ve only been on this diet for 5 – 6 weeks, yet things do finally seem positive. My weight has dropped from the initial 155 kilos to a much more reasonable (if still grossly overweight) 142 kilos. Including the period from Christmas to now, when I was pretty much living on salads and protein, this is just 8 weeks so until now I’ve been averaging a loss of (roughly) 2 kilos per week. This was obviously unsustainable and now I’m losing a kilo a week. Even at this rate it will still take a minimum of a year to get down to some reasonable weigh and probably more as the weight loss evens out. My ‘target weight’ is 100 kilos but it may be I’ll never reach it. All I can do is try.
Food isn’t the only issue of course, I’ve also upped my exercise. Not by much admittedly, carting this bulk around places all sorts of limitations on what one can do physically. Currently I’m trying to walk at least 5 – 10 kilometres a day albeit *much* slower than I did in the old days. Sometimes I can’t manage it but I have a treadmill which I could use to supplement the walks as soon as I feel my legs can stand the strain. I have also been visiting a physiotherapist once a month to get exercise plans and training hints. My arm and leg muscles are slowly responding, though it *is* hard and my right hip and knee protest vociferously at this treatment.
As for the future… well who knows. It may be that after a while, like the wife who is vegetarian, I could find the Lite ‘n Easy menu selections a bit restrictive and tedious. Right now I currently order as many varieties of salad as I can and change them up by varying the dressings I put on with different flavoured mayonnaise varieties etc , but in winter where hot food is usually preferable things may well change. If I *should* get bored there *are* many other companies out there (such as Dietlicious) that have started producing a similar system to Lite ‘n’ Easy so swapping to them would be a viable option. I could try one of two meals a week from each to see which one we prefer, or even swap week by week. The possibilities exist so why not take advantage of the?
Either way, I’m hoping to report back over the weeks with updates, including hopefully, announcements of further weight loss. Watch this space… it’s shrinking.