Now you see it, now you don't: how to go on a diet... without dieting

Dieting makes you fat, runs the old adage - prompting the question, what makes you thin? Elizabeth Heathcote and Hero Brown have a couple of suggestions
Click to follow
Indy Lifestyle Online

If expressions such as "New year, new you" make you want to stick your head in a KFC bargain bucket, the chances are that you are one of the 95 per cent of dieters who either fail outright or quickly regain any weight you managed to shed. Atkins, blood-group, Zone - we know they don't work long-term, but is there an alternative?

If expressions such as "New year, new you" make you want to stick your head in a KFC bargain bucket, the chances are that you are one of the 95 per cent of dieters who either fail outright or quickly regain any weight you managed to shed. Atkins, blood-group, Zone - we know they don't work long-term, but is there an alternative?

Here we test two "non-diet" weight-loss programmes, one based on exercise, the other on psychological re-programming. Our volunteers are both women at a dangerous age (on the threshold of middle-age spread); both emerged from pregnancy a stone over their usual weight and a year later, despite good intentions, have failed to shed any of this. This is how they got on.

The grim gym regime

Elizabeth Heathcote, 38.

Starting weight 10st 5lb.

Until I was pregnant I maintained my weight at around nine-and-a-half stone by being active and not too much of a pig. Over the past year I have tried various diets which I stick to half-heartedly for a few weeks then give up. I find diets depressing and counter-productive - the more I think about food the more I want to eat.

The programme

Holmes Place Weightloss Training is a two-month programme run by the luxury gym group. For £130 you get eight weeks' unlimited access to your nearest Holmes Place; five sessions with a fitness instructor, and nutritional guidance. If you have not lost 5lb in the eight weeks, the company will refund your money.

I am looking forward to this. I used to swim three times a week and walk everywhere but since I acquired a car and a family, I have been virtually inert.

Week one

The handbook suggests that rather than focus on pounds, I commit myself to modest goals such as the gym twice a week. I have to record everything I eat for a week and break the food down into groups on daily pie charts. From week two I set targets - two portions of protein a day: four-six portions of carbs: one of fat/sugar: five of fruit/veg; two of milk/dairy. I commit myself to four alcohol-free days a week.

Leanne, my trainer, says I must combine weights-based exercise with aerobics. I tell her I like swimming and classes and hate the gym. She smiles and puts me on the cross-trainer. She suggests I rope in a buddy for motivation, so I call Debs.

Week two

I swim twice and take a walk every day. After the initial shock, the eating regime is fine and I feel better for drinking less. Meet Debs for swim and Jacuzzi and discuss how fabulous our new way of life is over pasta/tomato sauce/mineral water.

Week three

Three swims plus walking. Feel great. First weigh-in - have lost 2lb! Debs doesn't make it (busy, busy), but I see Leanne, who forces me round the weights machines, my most loathed part of the gym.

Week four

Compromise with Leanne and try weights class. Better hefting iron to music but still absurd, miserable experience. V excited to get on scales and gutted to find I am back up one pound. Motivation evaporates - it's the same old story: one step back and I'm lost. Leanne says I must make coming to the gym my priority. What, just walk out of work, and leave the three-year-old to hang out on the streets, shall I? Meet Debs but sulking too much to exercise so we hit Jacuzzi then move on for burger and chips. Debs delighted - have clearly chosen wrong motivational buddy.

Week five

Still sulking. Nev, my fiancé, breaks his arm. I am now indispensable and cannot go to gym at all.

Week six

Limp in to weights class. Leanne forces me round machines again. I want to shout "DON'T YOU LISTEN AT ALL? I HATE THIS!" Why do personal trainers find it impossible to deviate from the script?

Week seven

Don't make it to the gym but go running three times round the park! This is a breakthrough. I have been desperate for a form of exercise that I like and that fits in with my life and this is perfect. When Nev asks why I haven't been to the gym I explain it is because of his broken arm. He points out that there isn't a single occasion when that would have stopped me and I realise he is right. Debs is having crisis at work and hasn't eaten for a week so, despite zero effort, is on course for a 7lb loss. Bitch.

Week eight

After five weights classes I am developing muscles. Unfortunately they are nestling in fat.

Total weight loss 1lb

Conclusion.

What can I say? The facilities were great: I was rubbish. Maybe if I had followed Leanne's regime from hell it would have worked, but I couldn't bear it. Still, I emerge optimistic. My habits are vastly improved - running, a weekly weights class, alcohol consumption slashed, and lots of tips like walking up stairs. Next time ...

www.holmesplace.com

The psychological approach

Hero Brown, 33.

Starting weight 9st 13lb

I'd promised myself that I'd never become one of those women who blame weight gain on children. Well, sod it - it's my baby's fault. When I got married two years ago I was eight-and-a-half stone: now I'm 20lb heavier. Finn is 14 months old and I haven't shifted an ounce. I don't know why because I've always been a successful dieter - I have will-power, I like weigh-ins, and I love getting sweaty at the gym.

The programme

The Weigh Forward is run by Julian Williams. He believes people hold on to their weight because they have unresolved psychological issues that need "clearing". He performs "clearing" sessions, and also gives exercise targets and nutritional advice (£35 per hour). He then keeps in touch via weekly email sessions.

Week one

For three hours Julian and I discuss my past, my fears (obvious - that I'll always be this huge), and what's on my mind. Then something unthinkable happens. He asks me to picture a place where I was really happy and I start to cry. Julian explains that I'm not losing weight because I'm feeling hemmed in by the changes in my life - my subconscious won't let go of the baby weight.

He gives me a mantra to say 10 times a day and tells me to exercise three times a week. We agree that I'll follow a low-carb diet. He insists on hugging me goodbye.

I shut the door feeling freaked out - tears! In front of a stranger! - but strangely impressed.

Week two

INCREDIBLE! I've lost five pounds - and I only managed to go to the gym twice. Is it the low-carb diet or Julian? WHO CARES? I strut around the house and try on my pre-pregnancy jeans. They refuse to rise above my knees. Early days!

Week three

I've been to the gym three times this week but weight loss has stalled. Julian tells me to keep saying my mantra to stop my subconscious derailing my diet. Daren't tell him that I haven't said it once yet but here goes. "I am free of all destructive anger. I now stand positively balanced in freedom and success." Bleugh.

Week four

Am so busy with work I don't make it to the gym. Feel fat and depressed, ergo, I eat. I put on a pound and avoid Julian. The eclair and I are going to have to work this one out on our own.

Week five

Julian's been having bad vibes about my subconscious and has been doing some "clearing" for me from the Cotswolds. But I have lost another pound and friends have started to comment on my weight-loss. Best of all, my old jeans are giving me builder's bum.

Week six

Get the flu. Can't eat a thing and lose 2lb. Joy! Promise that next week I'll capitalise on new skinniness.

Week seven

Unexplained week-long orgy of biscuits, cheese, crisps, sweets, thickly buttered toast ... Beg Julian for more long- distance brain surgery to get me back on the straight and narrow. Refuse to weigh myself for fear it may destroy me.

Week eight

Have remained at 9 stone 6, a miracle. Get to gym three times and can see improvements. I'm more toned, my bum and thighs are smaller and my stomach is flatter. My 9 stone goal is some way off, but I'm feeling optimistic.

Total weight loss: 8 lb

Conclusion

After a year of stalled will-power, I'm sure some of the weight I lost must be attributed to Julian. Now I'm back on the straight and narrow though, I'm happy to go it alone.

www.theweighforward.com; Julian Williams 07870 581865

Comments