Archive | February, 2013

Please find me at

25 Feb

I’ve moved my blog to, Please join and follow my healthy-weight story there.

A Troll in Silk is a Troll No Less

25 Feb


To paraphrase Rodriguez, the man of the moment, A Troll in Silk is a Troll No less and if you are committed to reaching or maintaining a healthy weight, it is essential you know this. Sometimes trolls also wear pretty dresses and warm smiles but if they apply pressure on you to eat or drink something you don’t want to, in my book that makes them a troll. And, forgive the mixed metaphors, but just like Rumpelstiltskin, you have to name them, if only in your own mind, to take back your power.

I am pretty resolute when it comes to what I will or won’t put into my mouth but just last week I experienced the power of the troll. The troll is the one who makes you feel bad because you aren’t joining in in what they are eating or drinking. The greater power the troll exerts on your life (the example that is top-of-mind is a work colleague that I need on my side), the harder it is to refuse.

The trickery is in the way in which trolls behave. They hide beneath the bridge and just the moment you are about to cross it they threaten you with pleas like “Oh, go on, have a glass of wine,” or “Stop being such a stick in the mud, a little piece won’t kill you,” or “Just taste this!” or “But I made this especially for you”. These are some of the ways trolls behave. I don’t believe they know they are trolls nor the quantum of pressure they exert upon us but these are the people to watch out for. The boogieman is not under the bed, she is at the table with you.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

1) Nobody who loves or respects me will want me to break such a life-affirming commitment (to stay healthy) and if they do, it proves they don’t love or respect me.

2) It is possible to refuse even the most insistent person by asking them not to put pressure on me to eat something I don’t want to.

3) You could (I haven’t yet, to be honest with you) identify the trolls behaviour. In my mind’s eye I’ve said things like: “The only reason you are putting pressure on me to join you is so that you don’t have to be the only one drinking or eating junk at the table – if you want it, enjoy it, but leave me out of it.” I can’t really see myself saying that to someone who has power over me but I can and do think it and that makes it easier for me not to capitulate.

4) A psychological truth is that what drives me crazy about people is also something I do myself. So, let me place the following on record. I get so much pleasure from baking that despite the evils of sugar and carbs I will continue to do it and continue to offer it to my guests. I offer what I bake to everyone, even if they’re on a healthy eating plan, and I will continue to do so as, for me, it is an expression of my affection. Happily though I don’t mind a jot if you refuse.


Feeling on top of the world! Took this pic today after climbing the mountain behind the house.

Feeling on top of the world! Took this pic today after climbing the mountain behind the house.

SleekGeek did a wonderful profile on my journey.

21 Feb

SleekGeek did a wonderful profile on my journey.

Feel the fear and do it anyway

11 Feb

Know Yourself.

When I was an active Freemason, one of the central tenets was to Know Yourself and now that I’m on this healthy-living journey, this advice seems more relevant than ever. I’m a worrier – always have been and probably always will be, but fortunately I know this about myself so I can manage the impact. Being such a scaredy-cat was quite an impediment growing up and I think I missed out on a whole bunch of exciting things because of it. Anyhow, among the many things I’d worry about was my obesity but, true to form, I’m now worrying that I’m too underweight.

My weight dipped below 82kg which, given that my dietician said 90kg should be my goal weight and that people as obese as I was typically carry between five and seven kilos in excess skin, that means I’m actually about 75kg. Rather than worry – I’ve had a whole bunch of bloods done to confirm that I am a picture of health and am seeing Judy Kotze to discuss my lightness on Wednesday.


The great thing about overcoming challenges is that it gives me courage to take on even bigger things – whether I worry about them, or not.

Great healthy dining experiences at pulp kitchen & deli and Treat

7 Feb

When you ask nicely, I find people overwhelmingly obliging.  Take pulp kitchen & deli at Willowbridge Mall, for example. I was so impressed with the chicken salad (R49), a good-sized portion of peppery rocket, creamy, perfectly ripe avocado, shaved carrot ribbons, feta and seeds along with other greens served with Willowcreek Director’s Reserve Extra Virgin olive oil and Cabernet Sauvignon vinegar, that I looked for something else on the menu.


Great, fresh salad ingredients and excellent olive oil.

They get their coffee from Deluxe Roasters and I like that they say so on their menu. I feel like a little more action than my usual black Americano and spied a Cool Beans (R22) smoothie. I ask Deonette who was serving me if she could tell me how many calories were in the frozen yogurt used in the smoothie. She returned in a heartbeat to say the owner was going onto Marcel’s Yogurt website to check. Next, I assumed, was the owner to tell me she couldn’t find the information on their site but had called them. Turns out the only person at Marcel’s with that info was not there. The owner then suggested I might prefer a Frozen Latte which is the same thing but without the yogurt.


Frozen Latte made with Deluxe coffee at pulp kitchen & deli

I would have been satisfied had said she couldn’t get the information I asked for and appreciated her trying to. However, the levels to which they climbed to provide me with what I wanted, not to mention that my salad was delicious and good value for money, means I will make a beeline for pulp kitchen & deli. I will again skip Kauai, which is directly opposite them, because despite calls and two emails to Kauai HQ last year, I still don’t know the nutritional content of the Peanut-butter Bomb if I skip the chocolate.

 While I think this experience was exceptional, the other day at Treat –my other go-to spot for a salad lunch, the chef assuming I was gluten-intolerant because I avoid carbs, said she could bake me something with gluten-free flour. Isn’t that great? I had made no special requests but she drew a conclusion, incorrectly but that doesn’t matter, and offered me an alternative.

All diners, those of us on limited diets or not, are better off with restaurants like pulp kitchen and Treat around.


What I’m getting now is worth so much more to me than what I’ve given up.

3 Feb

Although on separate sides of the pond, my brother Steven and I both excelled at physical endurances today. He completed the Watford Half-Marathon in 1 hour and 58 minutes while I cycled 34km today to The Palmiet River and back to Pringle Bay. Previously cycling about 20km was my record. I mention this because it proves that we Berkman boys have the genes of athletes and what I had to do was to shed excess weight and get fit to succeed at it. I was pretty tired when I got home but not so tired that I couldn’t have done an extra 10km which is what I’ll aim for next time. Maybe this time next year I will also be able to run a half marathon.

The most extraordinary thing about this is that in May 2012, when the picture of me was taken in The Maldives, not only would this have been impossible for me but I would also have considered you crazy for even suggesting it. If ever you needed proof that what nothing is impossible, I must be it. The second image was taken in Pringle Bay in January 2013.Beach before and after

On re-reading Prof Tim Noakes’ thinking, ,I’ve stopped eating porridge for breakfast and instead eating eggs or left-over supper. He also suggests that the notion of eating three meals a day may not be the best for us and admits that he is experimenting with just one meal a day or only eating when hungry. Broadly speaking, a low carbohydrate diet is the single biggest change to previous eating plans and I believe 100% that this has been the key to unlocking my 70kg weight loss. But, and here’s where I’m rethinking things, I used to routinely start my day with cooked oats porridge, a table spoon of dried cranberries and half a banana and I’m also not having artificially sweetened drinks like Sprite Zero which had become my tipple of choice to see if my body functions even better because of it.

Another article, in Time Magazine, suggests that the time of meals may make a significant difference to weight gain/loss and repeats the old age wisdom that we should breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dine like a pauper.

I’m also reading Breaking The Food Seduction by Neale Barnard which suggests that there are addictive substances in dairy and meat as well as the better known ones in sugars. So, if I follow their plan, I’ll end up eating mung beans and tofu instead of meat and dairy which, frankly, doesn’t appeal to me.

I mentioned in a previous post that I’ve been sexing up my broccoli with a peanut butter sauce. I know that most brands of peanut butter contain sugar but as I only use about two tablespoons for 700g broccoli I don’t think it is too worrying. What is worrying, however, is that I find myself craving peanut butter which makes me think that perhaps Prof Noakes is also right in suggesting that peanuts are not good choices in terms of their carbo-load.

Now that I’m working to maintain my healthy weight and increase my cardio fitness and muscle strength, this goal has replaced the desire to eat and drink the things I once loved. What I’m getting now is worth so much more to me than what I’ve given up. If you also found a way of internalising this it may help you on your journey to a healthy weight.