Weights and Measures

As you know, since April this year I've been steadily increasing my physical activity. I've wanted to exercise regularly for many years now. I used to start and stop. This has been the longest time I've ever stuck with the programme.

It started because I wanted to be fitter so I could cycle with Dave. I like workout DVDs and so I dusted them off and started from the beginning. Seven months later, I'm still committed to being leaner, stronger and fitter.  

I also started to think about what I ate.

If you do a search on fitness and health, you will come up with a mind-boggling number of websites and resources. All saying they have the answer (the only answer) to good health and fitness. Some of them come with science, some come with "common sense", some with a double dose of snake oil. 

I can't say that with all my research that I'm any better informed. I wish I was. But I'm not. In fact, I'm probably more confused now, than I was when I started. Trust me when I say, that's a good thing - it shows I'm paying attention.

What gets put in your mouth, ends up going round your system and affects how you feel, your energy levels and where it ends up hanging out. Makes sense, doesn't it? If I were a computer programmer, I'd be tempted to say 'garbage in, garbage out.'

So, what constitutes a 'good' diet? Let's crack this can of worms open.

Over the summer I tried the 5:2 diet. Intermittent fasting lead to me losing 6lb. I ate 500 calories twice a week on non-consecutive days. It wasn't particularly hard going until the weather turned cool. I run cold anyway, with the lack of calories in my diet, I couldn't cope with it. I stopped doing it. In the September when I stopped, I was just under 9 stone. 

I've read a lot since then. There's a massive three-way fight going on between fat vs sugar vs carbs, all with fairly compelling arguments. I'm still no wiser.

Fat - it makes you fat. That seems to be the perceived wisdom of most medicine. Cut out the fat, it won't clog your arteries. How's your cholesterol? Bit high? Hello statins. Go low fat.

Except I really, really love fat. Butter, double cream, crackling. Yum yum yum. Bring it on. Low fat stuff, tastes diabolical. It's nasty. And furthermore, none of the food scientists I've met eat margarine. They all have butter.

Sugar - empty calories. Rots your teeth. Makes you fat. Makes things taste good. We have evolved to like sweet things, because sweet things are likely to be calorie rich which is just what a hunter/gatherer needs to survive. I do have a sweet tooth, but not for chocolate or sweeties. 

Sugar hides in plain sight in low-fat foods and other processed foods. Don't believe me? Check out the difference when you're next shopping. 

Carbs - since the Atkins diet caught on early in the naughties, carbs are the enemy. Eating too many carbs causes insulin sensitivity and immense weight-gain. I've seen people on the Atkins lose a helluva lot of weight, though I certainly didn't want to get up close and personal, because their breath smelt like decomposing dog feaces. It turns out that Atkins long-term is a very bad idea for one's health and wellbeing. Nasty side effects include kidney stones and increased incidents of osteoporosis.

There's also the traditional calorie counting. I've given it a go before I did intermittent fasting. I can tell you, it sucks arse.

Firstly, because it's easier to go ready-prepared, because the calories are all laid out. You cook a home made meal, that's you with scales and a calculator. 

Secondly, all calories are not created equal and the healthy option does not always equal low calorie. 

Oh yes, I also looked at the Low GI Diet. The premise of this diet ranks food according to their Glycemic Index. This refers to the scale against which a food is broken down by the body, into glucose. It limits carbs and the way they are cooked. I liked it fairly well, up until I got to the low-fat mantra. And as far as I am concerned, mashed potatoes is Food of the Gods. I don't care what anyone else says.

After all of that, what do I believe is the best diet to go on?

I call it the Balanced Diet. I eat a little of what I fancy, when I fancy it. I am eating a heck of a lot more fruit and veg. I stop eating when I'm full. I've gone from 0-2 portions a day to around about 9 or 10 portions of fruit and veg.

I am also being more mindful of processed foods. I do still have ready prepared foods, but they now make up a much smaller percentage of what I eat. I enjoy cooking and like to know what ingredients are going into my dinner. I figure if I can't pronounce it, I shouldn't be eating it.

Water is now my drink of choice. There are still squashes in the house, and I still have a weakness for Elderflower cordial. But I go days without drinking them.

How do I feel? I feel okay. 

Interestingly, I haven't gained or lost any more weight, I'm still around about 8 stone 12 ounces. But I have dropped a dress size.

My goal is to continue to be mindful about what I eat. I will continue to cut down on sugar and processed foods, but I'm also changing the numbers I focus on. I do still like scales, but my attention is now on how well my clothes fit me. Tomorrow, I'm going to measure up properly. Tomorrow, I'm going to take my training up a level.


  1. Very sensible Rosemarie! The jury is out on so many things, how can you believe anybody??!!! Never mind new findings on old beliefs. Moderation, common sense, and exercise can work magic!

  2. Hey ripley1!

    Thanks for dropping by. Exactly that!

    By the way, no one has ever called me sensible before. Should I be worried? ;)


  3. The experts keep changing their views on what's healthy and what isn't. Saturated fat is now said to be okay, after being the baddie for years. Personally, I ignore all the experts and like you just have a balanced diet - a little bit of everything. Nuts, figs, dates, fruit, vegetables, rice, pasta, tofu, beans, whatever. And yes, the odd bit of processed food which I figure isn't going to matter much set against all the healthy stuff. My weight has been 11½ stone for 13 years, which is the perfect weight for my height (6 feet)

    1. The problem lies on who the "experts" are paid by!

      You know the whole 8 pints of water a day? That came from one study, funded by a bottled water company! And since then, it's been taken as fact.

  4. I know you will be successful with whatever method you chose!

    I've had success with this. Breakfast: snack. Lunch: normal portions of what I like. Supper: snack.

    1. I like your diet! :)

      "portions of what I like."


  5. It IS hard to sift through the all the stuff about and know what to believe. I don't believe any one source of information. Some diets, like Weight Watchers, has you eating a bunch of processed crap like low fat cheese or their chemical treats, which are horrible but teach you via the points system that if you make sensible choices, you'll be more full, as you are finding out eating more fruit and veg. Low carb diets don't work for me. All I ever did was dream about pasta and bread. The first time I did it, I lost 10 lbs in two weeks, the second time, 7, the third time five. To this day I have a hard time eating turkey and it's rare I will eat a protein with a salad, I had so many of them. I don't do or believe in any fad diets, like the blood type diet, which I think is ridiculous. I believe in eating whole foods as fresh as possible prepared as simply as possible using a variety of spices and herbs. I believe you should wash it down with a good glass of wine and drink plenty of water. I believe that you should do weight bearing exercise to strengthen your bones and yoga and balance work to help your balance and breathing and cardio to burn the calories. I always sleep better after I've worked out that day too. I believe you have to do a variety of exercises as well as eat a variety of foods. Boredom, to me, is what makes sticking to a diet difficult. And every diet I've ever done, all I did was think about food and when my next meal is. You are doing great, Rosemarie, keep going and good luck. The fact that you lost a dress size says it all and it's a fact that muscle weighs more than fat.

    1. That's the thing - you've hit the nail on the head - it's the denying oneself of the pleasure of the food which undermines any dietary regime that involves cutting things out.

      The blood-type diet? I'm so going to have to read that. There's an hour or two of fun. Do they include free snake oil?

      Turkey and I share a mutual loathing. I don't care if it's the super-food that will expand my life expectancy into 3 figures. I really don't want to know. Bleugh!

  6. I read about the blood type diet years ago but dismissed it at once, because my mother and I had the same blood group but the sort of food that suited each of us was quite different. A balanced diet without much processed food and knowing when to put the fork down works for me.


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