Fat Chance

Yoyo

I started a low-carb Mediterranean diet last June when I weighed in at 82.5kg and reached my target of 69kg by mid-November. This wasn’t my initial target (that was 80kg) or monthly revised targets prompted by the elation of seeing the kilos of fat melt away, but a final target that I felt was a reasonable weight to maintain before I descended into “wizened”.

Then I discovered that the losing phase of the low-carb “blood sugar” diet was the easy part – it’s the period when you are most motivated and seeing the greatest immediate results so reinforcement is strongest. The Status Quo is not such an exciting headliner ( although they did a great opening set at Live Aid).

There is a conventional wisdom that most dieters fail in the long term and inside every skinny new convert is the original fat person trying to get out. The figure which had stuck in my mind is that “95% of dieters put all or most of their weight loss back on”, a claim which has appeared for years in newspaper articles and television programmes. I tried to find the data to support this figure and it appears that the 95% claim first appeared in a clinical study in the USA in 1959 and focused on just 100 people. Since then it has been regurgitated endlessly and become a dark and foreboding dampener to the spirits of any new dieter.

Well, it turns out that the technical term for this figure is “bollocks”. ”That 95 percent figure has become clinical lore,” said Dr. Thomas Wadden, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania. There is no basis for it, he said, ”but it’s part of the mythology of obesity.”

Well good news. And it’s not difficult to imagine that a lot of “fad” diets are not very successful in the long term because they don’t have a maintenance phase – if you have survived 6 weeks on pills and cabbage water the first place you’re going to be heading on the day the programme finishes is a Greggs or KFC where food often turns up in buckets.

The excellent thing about the Blood Sugar Diet is that it isn’t a just a temporary fix, it is a way of life, a style of eating which becomes permanent and satisfying. The difference between the weight-loss phase and maintenance phase is surprisingly blurred and nothing like the “falling off a cliff” feeling that fad-diet-to-binge-diet must give.

I’ve maintained my new weight for 2 months now and whilst it isn’t a piece of cake (no, it certainly isn’t a piece of cake!) I feel my Mr Kipling days are over .

 

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Crisis

Scientists are becoming increasingly concerned at an alarming and escalating epidemic in this Country which has been described by some as a “time bomb”.

The “naïveté epidemic” has swept through all generations but the under-forties appear particularly susceptible. Symptoms include believing that the EU have our best interests at heart and thinking that a pair of Marxist jobsworths will fix our NHS. It apparently relates to not being able to remember the 1970’s.

“It’s spreading throughout the West”, declared one Professor who pointed to the recent appointment of a narcissistic 70 year old child as POTUS. “Victims think they can solve all problems by typing on Twitter and Facebook – that’s just how far this naïveté has taken hold”.

Tipping the Scales

I think this year has seen the passing of Peak Marketing Email.

I used to quite enjoy the occasional informative email from Companies I’d purchased from in the past but this year a trickle of messages has turned into a veritable blitzkrieg of digital dross. Every Company from Argos to Zoopla has felt duty bound to mark every invented celebration from Halloween to Black Friday with a barrage of inane “eggseptional” or “spooktacular” email offers. The sheer naffness looks like an office intern has dreamed them up after a strong coffee but I suspect that the sad truth is that hugely overpaid agencies and “digital media Directors” have been involved.

I think the tipping point for me came when I received an email from Salter (from whom we bought £10 kitchen scales this year) announcing a “12 days of Christmas promotion” in which an email would offer special discounts on kitchen scales EVERY DAY FOR 12 DAYS!. Already pummelled to a frazzle by Black Friday deals I decided to call a halt. No weigh José!

Right, Amazon, Argos, Specsavers, Tog24, Halfords and the rest of you – you’ve spoilt it for yourselves and I’m unsubscribing from each and every one of you. If your “unsubscribe” button doesn’t work you will be directed straight into my spam folder. You’d been given a unique opportunity to address this customer individually in a creative and intelligent manner but like an alcoholic you just couldn’t resist over-doing it and now you can get lost.

If anyone reading this knows my email feel free to send me a message – my inbox is already starting to look as empty as Noël Edmonds’ diary.

Services to the Nation

Yesterday we visited what is possibly one of the least socially segregated places in the UK. Every economic and social strata arrive and rub shoulders (I can only speak for the gents) at Cambridge Services on the A14.

Lorry drivers from Slovenia , coach parties from Swansea, Audi drivers from Sevenoaks – all ages shapes and sizes coming together because “needing a wee” becomes, like death, a great societal leveller.

And what an odd place it is. The first person you meet as you enter the refurbished sliding glass door is Phone Case Man. He sits all day with 1000 brightly lit phone cases looking downcast. You never see him make a sale or even deal with a passing phone-case enquiry as grim faces march sternly past him intent on other business.I wonder if he is possibly a front for some sort of money laundering or secret Government 21st Century Mass Observation project. He could be an ironic art installation that we will all enjoy on BBC4 when the documentary comes out.

The toilets are located at the far side of the circular building in a cunning move to ensure your “footfall” takes in at least 50% of the franchisees. Most, like me, take in 100% as we follow the circular round trip in a primeval need “not to miss anything”. And as it’s Northern Hemisphere, always clockwise.

I normally stop at the Costa stall for a medium cappuccino but have to see nobody in the queue otherwise I walk on. Such is the degree of faffing about to produce a coffee and then get a contactless card to work (no cash changes hands at Costa) you can stand there for 15 frustrating minutes if you are second in the queue.

Other food counters include McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken and many new endeavours dishing out Nachos (whatever they are) , Enchiladas and Waffles. A massive slab of insulin spiking carbohydrate and a large cup of diuretic to go – and keep going.

Shops in the circle of clockwise perambulation include WHSmith where the Daily Mail and Giant Twix mingle happily with the Guardian and Granola Bar. The M&S shop sells lovely packaged food items at approximately 25 times the cost of what you could make it for at home but we all seem satisfied as it has the “branding”.

As we leave to find our car (one of us has to stand outside with our dogs obvs) we look back at this giant shiny building surrounded by the diggers and dozers of the A14 improvement building site and think – one day soon, the whole of the Country will look like this.

The Ascent of Man II

In 1487 Leonardo Da Vinci, the Italian Renaissance Polymath, conceived the idea for the helicopter which would not be built until the 1940’s. He invented the parachute, armoured car, barrel organ and giant crossbow in between knocking out the odd painting. He was a true genius.

DaVinci-Face

In 1775, James Watt developed the first reliable steam engine which was to go on to provide the motive power for the Industrial Revolution, turning us from an agrarian society into a complex Industrial one. His machines would assist the development of the brilliant and original creations of civil and mechanical engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel whose Great Western Railway route from London to Bristol opened in 1841 and pioneering River Thames Tunnel in 1843 . Both Watt and Brunel were true geniuses, or possibly genii.

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Today, as flight 2017 puts its flaps down and begins its bumpy descent towards the main runway of Xmas Airport , we are significantly into the 21st Century and I wondered where all the true genius is now.

Ah but wait! At lunchtime today a pimply, head-shaved lad called Zac in a blue T-shirt blew some fluff out of the charging socket of my iPhone 6 and enabled it to lap up life enhancing battery power once again. He is an “Apple Genius”.

geniusbar

Progress

Nearly half a Century ago the earliest digital computers achieved the astonishing feat of directing three brave men one third of a million kilometres to the moon and back.

It’s mind-blowing to think that the exponential predictions of Moore’s law have come true and we now have computers a billion times more powerful IN OUR POCKETS.

What is the latest application that would dwarf those distant achievements of Neil & Buzz? What will Trump Kennedy’s 1960’s techno dream?

Well, we can FROM NEXT MONTH animate monkey face emojis with expressions on Snapchat!

Light Bulb Momentm

Spoiler Alert : This post contains more tedious diet bore stuff. Feel free to move on if you don’t require this in your life.IMG_2267

I had a lightbulb moment this morning as I was lugging a large 10kg bag of dog food from the clutches of the DPD man to our utility room.

It suddenly dawned on me that as I heaved this heavy bag onto the bench that less than three months ago, and for many years before that, I’d been carrying this exact additional weight around 24 hours a day – UNDER MY SKIN!

I could feel the additional strain it was placing on my hips and knees just standing still so heaven knew what sort of damage it was inflicting when I was attempting to walk up hills or even jog.  My hip replacement surgeon had advised me to “keep weight under control” in a very low-key way after my April operation but I had no idea how much of an impact such a brutal additional weight was making.  I had never really felt that I was overweight and my cunning ruse of buying bigger and loose fitting clothes had helped to disguise my appearance – most people referred to me not as “that fat old bastard” but as “that scruffy old bastard”. It was well known in family circles that I could consume a single Battenburg in one sitting but that was before I knew I was taking in 75% of the average adult daily calorie requirement in one go.

Here are a few things that I’ve learnt in the last 3 months:

  1. The  8 Week Blood Sugar Diet is ace, and you don’t have to go hard-core at it with 800 calories a day – I’ve been consuming around 1200 and had very fast results which I’m now levelling off before I become wizened 🙂
  2. I’ve given up most potatoes, bread, pasta, cake, sweets, rice and alcohol. Before you stop reading in total disgust muttering “life wouldn’t be worth living” I can honestly say that I don’t really feel I’ve been on a diet. The Mediterranean Diet (sans Pizza & Pasta obs) is a way of life and I’ve sneaked back some breakfast soda bread and the occasional glass of red wine. Shares in “Twix” have, however, dipped alarmingly. Summer meals have mostly been served on a bed of runner beans and Winter meals will have an accompaniment of oven roasted vegetables, whilst we’ve kept on with fresh fruit for desert with Greek yoghurt and home-made Granola. Michael Mosely’s GP wife has produced a terrific book of recipes which is well worth buying.
  3. “Fad” diets of any type, including I would say the 5-2 diet, are all doomed because they reach an end point at which they can only go into reverse. The low-carb Blood Sugar Approach is based around a diet that is perfectly sustainable as a way of life. The amazing thing is big carbohydrate and high-GI foods actually instil a craving as they are digested, just like a cigarette lays down the seeds of the yearning for a follow up.
  4. Why don’t the NHS adopt the low-carb diet and promote it more actively? I don’t know, perhaps the large drug Companies and Sugar Food producers have too much influence.