I was the smallest baby ever born at our village hospital. I refused to breastfeed. Later I refused to eat. So my life revolved around my mother feeding me and her own complicated relationship with food. I had to eat everything on my plate. I was not allowed to leave the table until I had eaten everything. If I did, I was served the same plate of food for my next meal. But there were always seconds and thirds available. I went from scrawny to solid to tubby as I approached my teens. At 15 my mother finally noticed that I was chubby so she started giving me her prescription diet pills (being the 70s they probably were speed) and giving me laxatives every Friday. She even (horrors) gave me my father’s diuretics. I was bullied about my weight, conscious of my weight, ashamed of my weight. I ate in secret, I ate when hormonal, I ate when stressed. As soon as she banned cakes and sweets and started bringing out the salads and fruit I started eating junk in secret.
My weight yo-yoed drastically as I entered my late teens and early twenties. I tried every diet going – the Beverley Hills diet, diet pills, the Mayo Clinic diet, the baby food diet, drinking diet milkshakes, eating only oranges. But my weight rocketed. In the 80s when I was in my teens both my parents died within three months of each other. A combination of cancer, heart disease, hypertension, high cholesterol, drinking smoking and stress killed them both. My father had a stroke and then a heart attack and my mother had cancer and a stroke. They were 40.
In 1987 I returned from 2 years in the United States and no one recognized me at the airport. At 5ft 7in/1.7m I weighed almost 110kg/242lb. I rubbed holes in my trousers when I walked, I had to wear two bras because the ones I had couldn’t contain me. My stomach lay next to me in bed. My hair was lank and uncut. I had no interest in myself at all.
I decided then and there that I had to either resign myself to being fat forever and accept and embrace it, or else I had to lose the weight and keep it off. The yo-yoing would kill me. So I started eating less and moving more and within 18 months I was down to 54.5kg/119.9lbs. I had lost 55.5kg/122.1lbs – more than half my body weight. And I have stayed more or less there ever since – 25 years. I go up and down a bit but I make sure that if the pounds creep on I nip it in the bud immediately.
I use my Filofax as a weight loss and weight maintenance tool. I have tried journals but the Filfoax is more flexible and you can customise, add and remove things as necessary. So, here are some tips:
Before you start your Filofax Weight Loss Plan
- Keep a food diary of your present eating habits in your Filofax for a few weeks. Write down everything you eat, when you eat and the quantity. This will help you pinpoint trouble areas. If you like, you can also write down how you are feeling when you eat, and how hungry you are. This will help you pinpoint trouble areas and why you eat. I know that I eat when I am hungry but also when I am tired, thirsty, angry, stressed and most of all bored.
- Also, take this opportunity to read product labels so that you can find hidden sugar and fats. Low-fat yoghurt for example usually has extra sugar added. Muesli and nuts are often regarded as healthy but they are high in calories and muesli often has added sugar. In many cases the ‘diet’ version of a product has just as many calories as the regular version.
- At this point you can start making lists of weight goals, healthy foods, non-food treats and maybe write down/insert healthy recipes and inspirational articles you find in magazines etc.
When you start your Filofax Weight Loss Plan
- weigh and measure yourself and write it down
- record your BMI and write it down
- decide on goals and write them down (if you have much weight to lose, break your goal down into stages)
- write down your meals for a week or so after you start
- write down meal plans and shopping lists in your Filo and use this when you go shopping (no wandering aimlessly up and down the biscuit aisle!)
- use a graph to chart your weight loss as you go
- write down compliments you receive
- write down encouraging quotes
- write down rewards for reaching each goal or sub-goal (if you have a lot of weight to lose it is best to set small goals along the way)
- write lists of clothes you want to buy (once again if you have lots of weight to lose, don’t wait to buy clothes when you have lost all the weight – do it every 10 kg or so. You don’t have to buy a whole new wardrobe but just something you feel good in as you lose. I used to buy a cheap pair of trousers and a few new tops every couple of months)
- buy a step counter. Aim for 10 000 steps a day but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t make that – every step counts. You can record this in your Filofax if you like.
- keep a record of all the exercise you do. Do what you find fun so don’t force yourself to the gym if you hate it.
- Build everyday exercise into your life – get off the bus one stop earlier, use the stairs instead of escalators, walk for ten or fifteen minutes during your lunchbreak, walk to see colleagues instead of emailing them.
As you lose weight it won’t always be easy. You will want to eat more some days, you will probably have to go out for some meals where it is impossible to eat exactly the way you want to. The important thing to remember is that this is a life-long thing and in the big scheme of things a slice of cake (or even a whole cake) is no big deal as long as it you don’t do it every day. With a Filofax you can just remove the bad day or week where you gain weight, tear it up and start again. Or keep it in there because you know that all success is, is getting up one more time than you fall.
After you Have Lost Weight
- Once you have lost weight, the hardest part is staying there. It is even harder than losing the weight because the orignal motivation is gone and the ‘oh you’ve lost weight’ comments stop coming. It is important that you keep an eye on your weight because kilos creep up if you start to slip into old bad habits. You can weigh once a week or more often if you like. Record it in your filofax and if you notice you are going up then just write down what you eat for a week. This usually helps pinpoint the culprit. In my case it is usually portion control and chocolate.
- Keep recording compliments and making treat lists for yourself.
What you Need
1. graph paper
2. pencil and ballpoint pen
3. tape measure
4. plain notepaper or to do notepaper
5. tabbed dividers (these I use to separate my categories – Compliments, Treats, Shopping, Recipes, Exercise)
6. hole punch
8. clear plastic pockets (for articles, recipes, before, during and after photos), inspirational photos.
If you use a smaller size Filo for this you can carry it with you all the time. The A5 (which I use) is less portable but allows me to use A4 sized paper and fold it to fit the rings. I often print out recipes and inspirational articles from the internet. You can make a Filofax dedicated to health but also make it a section in your existing Filofax.
Some Useful Quotes
- Progress not perfection
- Something doesn’t have to be perfect – it just has to work
- What matters in life is not how you handle success, but how you handle failure
- How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time
- I can have a new beginning any moment I choose.
- All success is, is getting up one more time than you fall.
- It’s over so get over it (when you fall off the wagon so to speak)