Shedding the mum-tum (it's been fun)

Sayonara mum-tum: the cheat’s guide to cutting the calories

By Anna Trevelyan cropped-anna-pic-2-e1436354275658.jpg

I’m just coming into week 6 of my Diet Chef diet and I’m pleased to say I look and feel better. Friends and family have been kind enough to say I look “nice” (as opposed to looking “well“, which we all know is nice-person-code for “chubby“).  I think I have also lost one of my chins.

I have to say, as a diet, this really is an easy option. They say on the Diet Chef website that you actually don’t HAVE to exercise any more than normal, so, unlike other diets, you’re not dragging your rumbling stomach out of bed to run around the block whist being laughed at by the Postman. Doing an extra few star jumps and long walks though does help to speed up the weight loss, but at least you’re not being forced. (Being forced to exercise immediately makes me want to phone my mum to ask her for a note, or feign a dodgy toe in GCSE-style P.E. escape plans. The horror.)

Now I’m three-quarters of the way through my 8-week plan, I have actually learned a few tips that I thought I’d share:

  1. Give yourself time to adjust. This one is key. When starting any diet it is likely you will be consuming less than you were before. Your meals will be smaller (hopefully), and you will be functioning on fewer calories. Don’t rush into a mad exercise regime the moment you start or it is likely you’ll feel a bit unwell (or want to stop the diet). By day 5 your body will have adjusted, I found, so after that point you can start to exercise more.
  2. Make some cheeky swaps. Instead of wolfing down pasta at dinner time, try cous cous (I’ve grown to really like those tiny kernels of semolina that resemble suspiciously damp play sand) or brown rice. You’ll feel full yet they are less calorific. Jamie Oliver also came up with an ingenious carb swap: cauliflower. Put the cauliflower heads into a blender for a few seconds to grind into a ricey-looking faux carb. Then simply boil or steam for a few minutes. It’s surprisingly tasty yet pretty damn good for you. Apparently you can also cut aubergine finely and bake it, to create a noodle replacement (though after my recent nightmare about zombie eels I’m going to leave this one for a few weeks).
  3. Ditch the large plates. This is an old one but some say feeling full has a lot to do with the size of the plate. I found eating from a bowl or small plate really helps, as it still feels like I am eating a significant meal just like all the other grown-ups around the table.
  4. If you cheat, don’t go over-board. It’s tempting to say “stuff the diet – it’s Friday!” but in real life there is always an excuse. If you go out for dinner, or someone cooks for you, it’s OK to stray occasionally. Just remember how hard you’ve worked and compromise with a small portion of something yummy. You’ll still enjoy the taste and your host won’t be offended (and you can always give the pudding away to your nearest willing volunteer).
  5. Eat with a toddler. This worked well for me. Not only does it incorporate the equivalent of a cardio class (jumping up and down, making a dive for the baby wipes and fighting off balloons that may have been stuck into your face) but they also tend to want what’s on YOUR plate. Sharing your meal with a cheeky toddler certainly does cut down the calories.
  6. Eat LIKE a toddler. Upon observing my little one, he eats small amounts and certainly goes along with the idea of little and often. He takes ages to chew, and rarely fully finishes his portion (after ten minutes he gets bored and runs off to find his truck). When I tried limiting my own portions, not feeling like I had to finish everything in front of me, and hoofing about the house in between courses this certainly helped my weight loss that week. (I skipped the half-sucked rusks and worms from the garden though. Bleugh.)

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    Ranging around between meals: burns a few extra cals

  7. Give chocolate away. Not only does it help hugely with weight-loss, by not having any temptation in the house, but it also makes you one of the most popular people on the street. Hooray!
  8. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. There really are no safe ‘quick fix’ diets that are truly sustainable. It takes work, and it isn’t always easy, but if you stick with it you WILL see results. Don’t compare yourself to that woman at the gym with perfect abs – try to remember that you have lost SOMETHING. Your bingo wings* may not be totally gone but they are smaller than they were before. (*A quick note on bingo wings – I saw Posh Spice waving on TV last week and even SHE had them – so I’m choosing to embrace them and be thankful that my underarms won’t be cold in winter.)
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Delicious home-made temptation that didn’t get the better of me: I gave my portion away to my niece (skipping the calorie gain in favour of gaining ‘aunty points’ is a winner)!

As someone probably quite inspirational once said “being fit and healthy isn’t easy, which is what makes it so special“. It isn’t always a walk in the park. Losing weight, too, can become a bit of an obsession – which is why I’ve found Diet Chef so good. It’s all done for you, you barely have to think about it and you really do notice results in as little as a few weeks. I’m hoping this diet will have changed my way of thinking: namely, in relation to portion control, so I’ll be able to carry it on after the hampers have stopped arriving. And, as my other half said, “don’t worry – if it all goes wrong you can just go back on Diet Chef again“. He may seem of little faith but he makes an excellent point.

End of week 5: 7kg lost so far. That’s the equivalent of around 8 boxes of Celebrations!

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