Archive | November, 2012

Know why you want to lose weight before you start.

25 Nov

Know why you want to lose weight before you start.

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I had to get my thinking clear.

Although all the supporters I connected with to help me on this journey contributed, I think the sessions with Cognitive Behavioural Therapist Bradley Drake made the single biggest contribution to me getting my thinking right. I can remember me telling him that was not possible for me to leave food behind on my plate and becoming very angry when he asked that if someone were standing next to me with a cocked gun threatening to shoot would it still not be possible for me to leave food on my plate. What made me so angry was that I thought he was being trite. Obviously, with a gun to my head, I would leave something behind on my plate. What he was illustrating was that it wasn’t impossible. It may be hard to do but it is not impossible, given the right motivation.

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Taken on Pringle Bay beach November 2012.

Me getting clear about why I wanted and needed to be at a healthy weight was the equivalent of the Godfather “making an offer he couldn’t refuse”.  I first had to accept that I was killing myself by the way I was eating and then the motivation became clear. I chose life.

If you’d told me, even offered a money-back-guarantee that I could and would shed excess weight; be able to be without medication for blood pressure and diabetes and, moreover, have energy and lightness that made me want to be active, I wouldn’t have believed you. That is how compelling my self-beliefs were. As someone who has achieved a healthy weight, I can offer you that guarantee. However, I imagine that you, like me before, will have to find that motivation yourself.

I was a glutton and I’m sorry.

17 Nov

It was almost a year ago when I wrote my last restaurant review. What made it hard to do was that I was closing the door on an aspect in my life that I’d been most publicly associated with.  For more than 10 years I had been writing about restaurants – where to eat what.

I still believe in many of the things I wrote about: eating local; creating dishes from the best possible ingredients with the least possible fussiness; selecting artisan producers over commercial ones and having respect for produce and livestock and the conditions under which they are grown and raised.  I also promoted gluttony. For me the prize at a quality buffet was to manage three or more helpings. Free-flowing Champagne was something I celebrated. Oyster quaffing at breakfast was a reason to visit. If I was dining with someone with a smaller appetite I’d swop plates to finish their food in addition to my own. I even recall one media lunch where I wolfed down five lobsters, just because I could.

I’m sorry if the way that I wrote about food, or indeed if reports of my behaviour, made you eat more than you had to. My wish to promote foodie excellence may also have meant I promoted gluttony. I’m sorry for this.

I often criticised the recent trend of “molecular gastronomy” or “deconstructionist cuisine” because it was, more often than not, badly executed. I now object to it on different grounds – the world over our relationship between ingredients and the food we consumer is more skewed than it has ever been. Despite accurate ingredient labelling we have become lulled into accepting that bread that doesn’t go mouldy in a week is a good thing or that the convenience of shoving a pre-prepared meal from the freezer into the microwave in two seconds, represents an advance. In this environment, where we are desensitized to what we consume, I think making an art form out of presenting ingredients in a way that makes them hard to recognise is not “witty” or “innovative” as I once described it. I celebrated the way chefs hoodwinked us.

Although I don’t choose to eat Foie Gras now on account of its high-fat content, I’m not sorry for promoting it. I still maintain that an animal that is raised well for most of its life, before being fattened so that its liver tastes better than ordinary liver, is ethically no different from a child that is taught ballet from an early age so that as an adult they can contort their bodies into unnatural positions for our entertainment. I do, however, object to the way battery chickens are raised and how used to purchasing skinless, boneless chicken breasts that we’ve all become that it has no connection to the animal that produced it.

I was wrong that I needed more. In fact, I needed less. We all do.

I made myself better

1 Nov

I had to own that I had made myself sick before I could make myself better.

In July last year when I sat across from Dr Malcolm Sandler and asked if there was anything he could suggest to help me lose weight, I was on the maximum oral dose of three drugs to manage Type 2 Diabetes and on three drugs to manage my high blood pressure. We were already discussing the need for me to have insulin but he wanted to postpone it for as long as possible as it would make me gain even more weight.

Today the only drugs I take are Supradyn A-Z multi-vitamin, iron in the form of Cheliron-Forte and Omega 3. Not only have I saved Discovery a whack every month in medicines but I also don’t have to spend time counting out a week’s medicine into little boxes. I kid you not, I was taking up to 20 tablets a day. Now I take three.

All of this is to say that in my case (and I’m prepared to bet in the vast majority of cases too) that I had made myself sick. What I had put into my mouth had given me diabetes and high-blood pressure. Let’s not to mention the near constant pain I was in from backache.

Perhaps because my father was a pharmacist I have always felt comfortable being on medication and seeing doctors willy-nilly. It is a fact that in my soon to be 45 years of life that I have spent (and caused to be spent) zillions of Rands on doctors etc. I’m probably the most over-treated person I know. And don’t get me started on psychotherapy! I’ve had so much therapy and analysis in my time that there is hardly anything about myself that I don’t understand. If the goal of therapy was to help me accept myself and view my insecurities with affection then it has worked. I don’t, however, credit any of my long term therapy, for the change in my behaviour. And, while my behaviour around food has changed, its appeal hasn’t dissipated. Food still calls to me. I now enjoy the idea of it – I still read little other than recipe books and bake something at every opportunity. What stops me eating a delicious looking and smelling peanut butter chocolate-swirl brownie is not a lack of desire. It is the knowledge that it will make me sick. For me wheat and sugar are poisons. Not because I’m physically allergic to them but because they are my gateway drugs – a puff of the joint that leads straight to heroin in the veins.

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Photo by Mike Wesson, October 25, 2012.

Now that I’ve reached my goal weight I’m giving myself more freedom when it comes to the kind of protein and the amount of fat I allow myself.

Each day I weigh myself at the gym and register the impact of the food I’ve eaten verses my exercise. I’m beginning to learn that if I spend 20 minutes on my bike and walk to and from Hook, Line & Sinker restaurant, that I can fully enjoy mussel soup and kingklip with cheese sauce with no change to my weight.

I bet that if you engage deeply enough with anyone you will discover that they, too, have psychological baggage. Heavy and light people both. It doesn’t matter why I might quell my emotions with food. All that matters is that I don’t do it now, or tomorrow or the day after that.

My mantra must be that I made myself better and that I can make myself sick again too.