I’m in my late 50’s. I’m a health-conscious Qigong teacher. I gave up smoking 15 years ago, alcohol dwindled over the years to a trickle, and then stopped nine months ago. With the advent of health trackers, I monitored my exercise regimen, slowly building it up, adding more steps, keeping up my cycling and swimming and of course my Qigong classes that I teach each week anyway..
The one blemish has always been my weight.
A little history then. I was brought up in Scotland. Sugar is a National Religion, along with Football, Rugby, and deep-frying everything that moves..
My lovely Grand-mother was never to be seen without a Pandrop Mint, a Callard & Bowsers Toffee or a Pontefract Cake liquorish sweet in her handbag. Everything was done on a sugar-reward basis.
My lovely parents must have reacted badly to the years of rationing. When the 60’s and 70’s came round, our mealtimes were filled with French style cream sauces and sweet puddings of all varieties.
Meals were seldom graced with any veg that hadn’t been covered in butter and salt (and sometimes sugar too – on carrots!)
I have vivid memories of my Grandmother often saying, would you like some apple? It would be peeled (she was an expert at peeling an apple with a knife, and not breaking the skin, so it would come off in one long spiral…) the apple would then be cored and sliced. It was served on a saucer with a dusting of brown sugar, or sometimes Icing sugar!
I’m not sure I ever stood a chance! My sweet tooth was formed at a very early age.
I’ve always been “solid,” at the age of 16 I made it to the first team at school playing Rugby.
The big lads always end up in the “Front Row” of the scrum. They are there to provide the GRUNT, to push the other team off the field. It’s a really visceral place to play. I loved it. I was young and big, and fairly strong. Sadly, I wasn’t particularly dedicated!
I soon developed a taste for beer and girls.
I could have trained harder. I only lost my place once in three seasons, when the exasperated coach wanted to teach me a lesson about doing “slightly” more than the bare minimum!
This was probably my prime. I was strong, fit not fat, free-range and happy!
Sad to say in hindsight that my decline probably started at 20!
A Career in the City of London as a FX broker helped provide all the hedonistic settings that I wanted, opportunities to dine in the best restaurants, drink the best booze, and stay out late every night came think and fast, for many years.
As I’m happy to tell anybody, Qigong “saved my life” – it gave me the impetus, and the grounding to jump ship in my late 30’s. It made me consider my health more carefully. It brought self-awareness, where there had been none what so ever!
My weight story starts in my 30’s to 40’s when year after year I’d add a couple of kilo’s to my best weight. As I say, I’ve always been a stocky character. But I was starting to lose the definition round my waist. It was about this period that I began to wonder what could be done.
My first diet of many, was designed by a Frenchman called Michel Montignac.
His first book Eat Yourself Slim really worked well for my City lifestyle. The essence, as my hedonistic self translated it, was “Drink lots of red wine, eat steak and dark chocolate!”
This worked well for me, and to an extent has been what I’ve done ever since.
He emphasised the cutting of carbs and refined sugar, the addition of salads and vegetables.
I’m a fully paid up member of the Carnivore Club, a salad-dodger from birth. My life is adorned with the souls of a thousand pigs, for which I have NO regret. Strand me on a desert island, but please give me a bacon sandwich supply! (actually, maybe you could strand me on a dessert island?!)
Actually, as a side note for history, it was at this time I developed a diet of my own, it was called the White Wine Diet. Simple really, drink a bottle of White wine at lunchtime, hurry back to work, blaze through the afternoon on coffee, get back in the bar at 5pm, and have another two bottles..
You rarely remember to eat..
I lost several kilos, when I followed it for a few days, I also lost my wallet, my way home, and almost my marriage.. I decided not to publish the diet, there were some health and safety issues..
Early in my journey of self-development I discovered Alkalizing and Dr Young.
He wrote an excellent book entitled The pH Miracle – I used the principles in this book with many of my clients. I still think the starting point for any journey of recovery has to be alkalizing the body.
It’s the most basic way to clean up one’s body and live a healthier life.
I also managed to lose some weight, when I followed his principles and felt much more energy.
I have continued to use Green Drinks (my favourite is Mega Greens) ever since, and swear by them, I really notice if I forget to take them for a few days; my energy really dips! The theory is that a scoop contains 1kg or 2.2lbs of green leaf – the day I manage to stuff in a kilo of veggies will be a great day! I’d rather drink them and hydrate at the same time – perfect for somebody who’s been trained from childhood to eat badly! (Great if you have a busy lifestyle too!)
(I have also just tried Dr Young’s pHlush – it’s an alkaline natural laxative for detoxifying, cleansing and alkalizing the intestinal tract, and boy does it work! Don’t stray far from the loo for a few days!! It is however an excellent intestinal cleanse!)
The real issue is that my old habits slowly crept back, and that (if you are still reading this far…) you’ll probably know, weight just quietly creeps back, and then a few extra kilo’s that you didn’t have before you started!! After every diet I ended up slightly worse off.
A friend introduced me to Professor Tim Noakes and his system based on the Banting Diet, called The Real Meal Revolution – The protagonist of the story was one William Banting (1796-1878) who was morbidly obese. His doctor designed a diet for him that we would recognise as a low-carb diet from today, it emphasised meat and vegetables whilst reducing carbs and sugar.
It became a huge success in Victorian Britain, and even became a verb for a while, “to bant” as in diet.. as with all things it faded away as governments started nannying the populous and putting out spurious and incorrect health advice..
One of my favourite stories which I’m unable to verify, is about the FDA pamphlets that were printed in the 1920’s using calories as a Nutrition measure. Shortly after they had all been printed, the scientist who popularise the Calorie in the US (It was originally a French measure..) explained that it was for measuring the raising of water being boiled, and that it worked in a chemistry lab setting but that wasn’t how our stomach’s worked..
He pointed out that every body is different, some metabolisms are faster or slower, and that everybody’s weights vary.. but all the printing had been done, and the pamphlets distributed.
That’s why we have a “not fit for purpose” measure ruling our lives! Quite clearly something is need, and I think Kilojoules is now more accurate, but not really used!
I’ve managed to knock out a few extra calories by typing that up, so it’s all good!
I checked into the Blood Type diet, but to be honest, it kept telling me that I should eat road kill and Moose, neither of which are very plentiful in a City in South West England..
Something else I always recommend to my clients is The Amazing Liver and Gallbladder Flush by Andreas Moritz. I had zoned into an idea that Liver Function had something to do with my problem but couldn’t find exactly the right information. I was just aware that when I tried the flush myself (many times) I always ended up feeling much better. The principle behind it is that we are familiar with the idea of Gallstones, and Kidney stones, but don’t hear about Liver stones. Years of fat and toxicants build into stones that “stud” your liver. This simple cleanse removes them.
I’ve read online about people calling this a fraud, but I have tried it many times, and have found it to do exactly what it says, and that it makes me feel really good.
From a Chinese medicine perspective it really “brightens” the Liver function. I was offered a word of warning from my colleague Dr Rosy Daniel, an integrative medicine doctor who specialises in helping those with chronic illness, that if a Liver is very compromised, then it can be a bit dangerous as a moving stone could block a pathway. Personally, I have never encountered this, but just consider your state before you begin.
I found my way next to The Plan – by Lyn-Genet Recitas.
This book really helped me. It felt seriously scientific.
I was able to eat something, weigh myself the next morning, and see if my body reacted well or badly. I made some really fundamental discoveries. It’s all based on “inflammation” – if your body reacts badly, it holds water and therefore weight..
I ate a portion of chicken, and put on weight, back to fish, and lost a few 100gms, eat a portion of steak, put on weight, back to fish…lost it again.
I thought about the potential signalling of becoming a pescatarian, and went off to get myself a bank-loan, and purchase some seriously good quality chicken and beef.
After eating the Organic, grass fed meats, I lost weight!
I had to draw the conclusion that “Animal Growth Hormones” were making this animal grow! (I guess the clue was always there in the title!)
Through Lyn’s book, I was also lead to the conclusion that I was “allergic” to the Nightshade family of plants – basically think of everything you like eating in the veg line, and you’ll discover it’s part of this dysfunctional family! Potatoes, Tomatoes, Aubergines (Eggplants) Peppers, Chillies.. – that’s basically my weekly shopping list right there..
(The only good news was that by detoxing for a few months, they could be re-added without too much catastrophe, on occasions…)
It’s no shock to me that Carbohydrates make me put on weight, and that the main factor is that most carbs are about 80% sugar.. It all comes back to the Sugar, time and time again.
I next tried a Paleo and then Keto style diet. Very little difference between the two, the problem was the “soul-count” of small animals going up like a Taxi meter in a London traffic jam.
I’m a big fan of testing EVERYTHING! If there’s something I can poo into, a saliva sample to be sent off, or a kit that I can leak my precious blood into I’ll do it! I love the data! (A hang-over from 15 years of being a computer system engineer..)
It was though the Thriva Blood testing that I discovered that the Keto lifestyle had raised my Cholesterol levels!! NOT what I was looking or hoping for!
This led me to the greatest discovery – Dr Alan Christianson’s Metabolism Reset Diet – I LOVE this diet, and I have lost 10Kg’s through following it!
OK, full disclosure here. I was “maintaining my weight” by fasting.
I had decided on a plan, where I ate very little during the day with a small supper, and doing this every Monday and Tuesday, then I had a normal diet during the rest of the week.
Doing this, I put on weight during the week, and took it off at the beginning of the next week. Generally, about 2 kg’s or 4 to 5lbs.
When I started Dr Christianson’s diet, I was probably already 2 kg’s from my heaviest ever weight.
So maybe my total loss was closer to 8kg’s in 30 days..
His research suggests that as time goes by, one’s ability to process Glycogen in the Liver declines, and that the body is then forced to store this as fat. The diet cleanses the Liver and restores metabolic flexibility. Over the 30 days the Liver heals, and the ability to process tri-glycerides returns.
After Liver function is restored one should be able to eat normally, and process the food much better. He suggests that you can return to the Reset programme once a year or more if you wish, giving yourself a break.
The real trick to a diet, is… “Is it easy to follow!?”
It took me a little time to zone in; most of the measures seemed a bit vague, and he being a doctor from the USA, was more used to using “Cups” and “Scoops” – which didn’t make so much sense initially to me.
After decoding, I discovered it was all pretty easy.
The principle idea is to stop eating two meals a day! What!?
There’s a meal replacement shake, that you make yourself. It’s really easy if you have a Nutribullet or I prefer my Breville Personal Blender
The basic of the shake is that it has Protein and Carbohydrate along with fruits.
There are 30 recipes in the book, one for each day.. honestly, don’t touch some of them with a barge pole! (I tried some with Carob, that came out like a cross between nicotine and pond sludge..)
I opted to riff round Apples or Pears with Oats, like a delicious blended flapjack, and Summer Fruits with Banana. I had a few others, but these became my real go-to’s!
The protein comes from an unlikely source – Peas!
I used a great powder called Pulsin Pea Protein – I eventually came to a casual two heaped desert spoons per shake. One of the nice things is that you make one shake a day, and refrigerate the balance for your next meal. It takes five minutes to make, and leaves you feeling really satisfied. (Savour it, don’t glug it in one!!)
The other ingredient was the slow release resistant starch. This was one of the big secrets. It’s a flour made from Green Bananas. I used Natural Evolution’s Green Banana Flour Starch It keeps you feeling full.
When I looked at the ingredients, I was a bit shocked at the prices, but found that in 30 days I only used ¾ of the Banana Starch, and just under 3 of the Pea protein. It’s actually a really economical way to eat! I purchased a big bunch of Green bananas, and peeled and chopped them in half, put them in a freezer bag in the deep freeze. I also purchased from our local farm shop, a large frozen bag of mixed summer 2kg’s or 5lbs – which I still have half of left. This and a packet of porridge oats, some nuts and milled flax seed, and I was off! I experimented with Stevia flavourings, various sweeteners, and almond and peppermint drops, but found them all to be superfluous, and a bit of a faff! (The fruit is sweet enough!)
I really enjoyed the shake regimen, and think I’ll give it another round after the summer.
I fully expect my cholesterol to have dropped significantly, and I know that my energy is as good as it’s ever been!
After 20 years of searching, I feel I have finally found the key to keeping my weight healthy for the rest of my life.
I really appreciate the power of fasting, so I think that my fasting will continue on an Monday and Tuesday (I usually have some grapes during the day, in the evening I have Hummus, Olives and crackers, with a bowl of Miso soup. The important thing is to make it look like I’m having dinner with the family, otherwise it freaks them out a bit, and they start to look guilty and worried!!)
By the end of this year I’m going to have lost a further 10 kg, I really feel I can do it, without major incident. (I used to get very Hangry – hungry/angry in the old days, not a nice person to be round whilst dieting! But even that has change for the better!)
Watch this space. I feel optimistic that I have found the pathway to looking after my health at last. My qigong keeps me fit, strong and calm, but now I can be svelte too! Watch this space!
When I last visited Hainan Island in Chinan to see my Qigong friend Jianshe, he was looking slim. He tapped my tummy in a friendly way! I said to him, “I know! But I just can’t lose it!” to which he replied.. “Just stop eating, that’ll do it…!” – to a certain extent he was right! I just need meal replacement and to perk up a fatigued Liver!
My Liver thanks you on behalf of all fellow Livers for reading to the end!