Secret Weapons

1 May

Bells asked in the comments yesterday what my “other” secret weapon was. I had intended to unfold my full arsenal other the next few weeks (I like to stretch out the blog-fodder if I can), but Bells was, um… insistent. In order to prevent her coming here and putting the hurt on me, I’ll tell all here and now (I’d love to meet you, Bells, but not like that).  😉

Disclaimer: I am not an expert on weight-loss. This is just what is working for me. Nor am I getting any kick-back from any company, organisation or individual I may link to here (although if they wanted to give me some love, I wouldn’t say no).

  • I’m using the Weight Watchers programme, because it has worked for me in the past. I like to cook, and I LOVE to eat, so WW is right for me because it gives me a bit more freedom. Foods are assigned a “points” value, based on their kilojoule/calorie and fat content. You are allowed a certain number of points per day, according to your weight. I am currently on 22 points per day. Now I could, theoretically, blow the whole lot on a big gooey slice of cake, but then I would have to eat nothing but steamed veggies for the rest of the day to make up for it (most vegetables have a points value of zero). One of the things that works best for me is to make up a big pot of veggie soup or casserole, and keep it in the fridge for quick-and-easy points-free lunches. I’ll post a recipe later today.
  • I like to work out to music. I know that there are plenty of people who listen to a podcast or an audio-book while they work out, but I need a beat. Lately I’ve been working out to the very same music for which I once heaped scorn on my younger brother when we were teenagers. He was a full-fledged, flannel shirt-wearing, acid-wash jeans sporting, mullet-haired Westie (or Booner, or Bogon, or whatever other pejorative you grew up with). Cold Chisel, AC/DC, Bon Jovi, you name it, I’m loving the Mullet Rock. Anything with a good fast beat will help get your heart rate up and burn off those extra kilos.
  • Yoga. I started doing it for Boyo’s sake, but I love it so much that I do my own practice while the boys are at school. I read somewhere recently that women who practice yoga lose up to 20% more weight than those who only do cardio, and are more likely to keep it off. As well as strengthening and toning, my balance and flexibility have improved, and I hurt less after my Thursday night cardio class with Jenny the Personal Torturer.
  • Breakfast is vital. I have never been a big cooked breakfast kinda gal, so the only issue I had with breakfast was finding maximum bang for my buck. At the moment, my favourite is All-Bran Dual. It’s high in fibre, which fills you up, and with a little milk and a good big dollop of low-fat yoghurt, I can conquer the morning munchies for only 4 points (the only problem is fighting off Sasquatch. He loves the stuff – eats it for breakfast most days, and then munches it like popcorn in the afternoons while he watches telly).
  • I keep a bottle of water with me at all times. This is a trick I learned when I quit smoking, and it is also proving really useful now I’m quitting the fatness. Whenever I want to eat between meals, I have a drink of water. It’s easy to mistake thirst for hunger. If I’m still hungry after about five minutes, then I eat something low in points like a piece of fruit or some raw veggies (I keep some ready to go in the fridge).
  • Distraction. The Fireside Cardi is really coming into its own here. When my hands are busy with the needles, they aren’t stuffing food in my mouth, and when my brain is occupied with the cables, it’s not thinking about the jar of peanut butter in the pantry.
  • Write everything down. I have a white-board on the fridge, and I write down everything I eat, with a running tally of my points for the day. If it’s right there in front of me every time I open the fridge, I can’t “forget” how much I’ve had to eat and use that as an excuse to snack. 
  • Weigh and measure. I have a funky-groovy little digital scale that lives on my benchtop. It has a weigh-and-add function so I don’t even have to do any maths, I just hit the ‘tare’ button: for instance, breakfast is 40g of cereal, about 60ml of low-fat milk (or 120ml of skim, but I prefer the taste of the low-fat), and 3 tablespoons of yoghurt. If I measure, I know exactly how much is going into me. When you get right down to it, the key to losing weight is to burn more energy than you consume, thereby causing your body to use its stored fat.
  • Understand the food groups. A basic knowledge of nutrition is a really useful thing to have. Exclusion diets are never going to work long-term. Yeah, to lose weight you need to reduce your energy intake, but cutting out carbs (for instance) is only going to hurt you in the long run. You’ll probably wind up constipated, with bad breath and the short-term memory capacity of a goldfish, but you will also slow your metabolism, and therefore your weight loss will slow down too, starting that whole yo-yo thing. Bad news. To lose weight safely and permanently, you need to change your eating habits altogether.
  • Keep in mind that muscle weighs more than fat. I have a really good book called Strong Women Stay Slim by Dr Miriam E Nelson. She was the lead researcher in a study on strength training and bone loss in post-menopausal women, and one of the side effects of the strength training was these women lost not weight, but size. Are your clothes feeling looser? It’s also useful to take some measurements: bust, waist, and hips, but also thighs, calves and upper arms. Re-measure once a month or so, and see if there is a change.
  • Sorry to say, but genetics plays a part, too. I come from a family that runs to tall, lean and wiry. At 170cm (5’7″), I am the shortest person in my family. When I do get off my butt and start moving, things tend to happen fairly quickly. 

There you have it. The sum total of my knowledge on the subject. I hope it has been of help to you. Bells, please don’t hurt me.


8 Responses to “Secret Weapons”

  1. Leonie May 1, 2009 at 12:32 pm #

    you have a veritable arsenal. Good to have more than one thing so if you stuff up one then others might fill the gap!

  2. Tinkingbell May 1, 2009 at 2:00 pm #

    I have discovered that putting 1.2 tspn of brown sugar in my porridge or coffee has a points value of 0 – same with raw sugar

    I really prefer to have a bit of sugar (not much ) and I loathe and detest with every fibre of my being fake sweeteners and diet drinks

  3. Tinkingbell May 1, 2009 at 2:08 pm #

    Oh – and I forgot to say I try and keep myself a bit on the cold side during the day – your body workd harder and your metabolism has to clock it up a gear – why do you think antarctic explorers have to try and eat 48,000 calories a day and still lose weight!

  4. bells May 1, 2009 at 2:15 pm #

    Wow. I was waiting for an email from you! didn’t expect this. Don’t worry. I won’t hurt you. I’m happy for you!

    See, I’m short and come from a long line of women with hips, boobs and tummies that settled in aroudn 35 and never disappeared. I’m already well on my way to being just like all the women in my family. I will never be a size 10 again (I was once, for about 5 minutes). But I can be lighter.

    Breakfast. I really must eat breakfast. I don’t. At least not until 10 at work. We should discuss WW because I have tried it and get depressed about all the cookbooks I’m not using (and I have loads).

    Ta muchly Kate.

  5. Kate May 1, 2009 at 8:23 pm #

    Good for you. I think that knowing what works for you is the biggest factor in the whole mess. I know that my personal vices are bikkies and chocolate, and not enough exercise. I’ll never see size 10 pants again (oh to be 21…!) but if I stopped sitting here (drinking red wine) I wouldn’t be a 14, either.
    Bugger. Now I have to get some exercise in this weekend.

  6. amy May 1, 2009 at 10:23 pm #

    I’ve eaten fairly healthfully for a long, long time but what really brought it into focus was having children–first trying to, and then knowing that someone was watching everything I put into my mouth. Did I want him to see me eating a candy bar, or an apple? In other words, did I want HIM to be eating candy bars, or apples? Which is not to say I don’t treat myself, but not daily. And genetics does play a part, of course, both in your body type and in your cravings. Vaughan is like me–while we like a bit of sweet stuff, a little goes a long way, and we tend to want to eat “clean” things like raw vegetables to counter-balance too much desserts on, say, a holiday. Nicholas was a carb hound from the minute he began eating food. If I’d let him, he’d have eaten nothing but crackers and bread. So we’re influenced not just by how our bodies process food but even by what our bodies crave.

  7. Lynne May 1, 2009 at 10:31 pm #

    Wow! Great summary! I eat breakfast every morning – I never sued to but once I started I can really tell if I have to miss it!

    Lack of exercise is my downfall! And pizza!

  8. Lynne May 1, 2009 at 10:32 pm #

    of course, that was supposed to say “I never used to!”

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